Wednesday, 12 July 2017 10:51

SGI’s court actions just more proof impaired driving a problem in Sask.

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It’s not often a Crown Corporation takes legal action against private-service industry businesses, but that is what has happened as Saskatchewan Government Insurance is suing two Saskatoon bars.


At first glance, it appears the Saskatchewan provincial government is trying to make an example of these two establishments in order to show it means business when it comes to eradicating drinking and driving.
The government made laws tougher because, according to Statistics Canada in 2015, there were 575 incidents of impaired driving-related offences per 100,000 Saskatchewan residents. This led the country. Alberta was next highest with 314 per 100,000.
Embarrassingly for the government in 2016, then Deputy Premier Don McMorris was convicted of having a blood alcohol limit of more than 0.08 after being caught driving a government vehicle.
What the government has done is those people in the industry who serve alcohol have to complete a mandatory alcohol training program called Serve it Right where servers and owners have to learn the nuances of alcohol levels. As of June 2017, at least one person must be on duty that has taken the training.
They have also made penalties for drinking and driving tougher in regards to suspensions, fine amounts and even a mandatory apprehension of the vehicle.
However, the fact legal action by SGIhas been taken shows a sign of desperation by the government in an attempt to try to  lessen the problem.
The trouble is, now they are forced into trying another route. Through the efforts of the SGI Crown, the government has tried its best to educate the public about the dangers of impaired driving and even begged people not to drink and drive through advertising and various educational programs, but still nothing seems to be working.
With this action against these two bars, the government is now trying to serve notice to one of the sources of free-flowing alcohol — the beverage industry.
SGI has been taking some social media criticism for following this course of action.
While the litigation, new laws and the education are all positive steps and no one can say the government hasn’t tried, while not a popular choice, government is running out of options. Without becoming a totalitarian state, government officials don’t have a lot left to try to stop people from getting behind the wheel impaired.
It still comes back to the actions of the individual and his or her choices.
Sure, there are rare cases of sabotaging by spiking safe drinks, but generally, before one takes that first sip, he or she has a choice on whether to drink and drive. If that person does, one has to be responsible and have a plan. That’s one of the points officials preach with the anti-drinking and driving advertising.
However, for some reason, in Saskatchewan there seems to be a laissez faire attitude and the dangers don’t seem to resonate with people.
Yes, when people are intoxicated, they cannot think straight or control their actions. In the rural areas, with often no official private company taxi service, not a ton of law enforcement, and low traffic on wide-open roads – the temptation is to take that chance and drive.
That isn’t the route anybody wants as there have been many broken families as a result of drinking and driving.
Litigation seems to be so prevalent in today’s society, it’s probably not so surprising the government followed this route as well. There just hasn’t been enough people listening.
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