Wednesday, 02 November 2016 13:22

Sask. government should be applauded for new drunk driving law change

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Saskatchewan recently has had a disgusting record when it comes to impaired driving. Pathetic, actually.

This reckless act of endangerment was personified when the provincial government’s own (now former) deputy premier Don McMorris, in early August of this year was charged with impaired driving. McMorris at the time was the minister in charge of provincial insurer SGI and the liquor and gaming authority. While not only embarrassing for the government, it exemplified a real and dangerous problem in not only Canada, but especially in Saskatchewan.
According to the government’s own press release from Oct. 31, “Saskatchewan has the highest rate, per capita, of impaired driving fatalities in Canada.”
In 2015, there were approximately 1,200 impaired driving collisions which resulted in 578 injuries and 53 deaths.
On Halloween, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and his government took direct action with proposed changes to the Traffic Safety Act. According to the press release, amendments to The Traffic Safety Act will be introduced this fall to:
• Add a three-day vehicle seizure for experienced drivers who are charged for the first time with having a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .04;
• Apply zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol to drivers 21 and under; and
• Strengthen ignition interlock laws to be the most effective in Canada, by extending mandatory ignition interlock to drivers who register a BAC over .16 or refuse to provide a breath sample (first offence — two years; second offence — five years; third and subsequent offence — 10 years).
As well the government states SGI will invest $800,000 in 32 more Automated Licence Plate Readers (ALPRs) to help police catch disqualified drivers. This brings the total to 47 ALPRs — enough to equip all vehicles in the Combined Traffic Services Saskatchewan pilot. This pilot dedicates 60 officers to traffic safety enforcement, targeting problematic roadways and intersections in the central and southeast regions of the province, with a focus on impaired driving, distracted driving and speeding. SGI is also providing $500,000 for law enforcement to increase check stops targeting impaired driving.
This is impressive work by Wall and his policymakers and they should be commended. If this isn’t enough of a deterrent for those willing to risk it — no matter how small the risk it is to them in making the decision while they are sober — than nothing will be. The onus has been and always should be on the individual; the government can only do so much.
A conscious decision has to be made prior to being in a situation where substances can have an affect on the person’s ability to drive. Alternative methods of how to get home and not driving until sober need to be made. Otherwise, once impaired, the decision-making process and ability to think clearly is gone.
“Once passed, Saskatchewan will join Alberta and British Columbia in having some of the most effective impaired driving legislation in Canada,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Gordon Wyant said in a statement. “Our government also continues to explore other avenues to bring down the number of impaired driving deaths and injuries in the province, including closer examination of the full B.C. model.”
Whatever it takes, just get these selfish and dangerous people off the roads. Whether one lives in a city or in the rural area, there is always a way to avoid drinking and driving. Always.
If you’ve been able to get away with impaired driving in the past; have never dealt with any kind ramifications of such actions or don’t see anything wrong with driving under the influence and don’t know anyone effected — consider yourself fortunate. Actually and more importantly, consider those people around you fortunate. The odds being what they are, the other side of the pendulum will swing your way one day and thanks to Wall, the odds have increased for the better for the rest of us.
Do everyone a favour, including yourself:stay off the road.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor