December marked the third consecutive month where SGI and Saskatchewan law enforcement focused on impaired driving.
"It's certainly disappointing. After extensive coverage in the media about safe ride options, increased enforcement and the tougher impaired driving laws that would be coming into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, people are still choosing to drive when they shouldn't," said Earl Cameron, Executive Vice President of the Auto Fund. "Wouldn't it be great to be able to report zero impaired driving charges next month? And it's possible — by making smart choices, and planning ahead. Let's make sure everyone gets home safe."
In total, there were 353 offences related to impaired driving (compared to 308 last December). Ten people were charged with having a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .04-.08. They received a three-day licence suspension, four demerit points on their driving record and must complete a Driving Without Impairment (DWI) course. Under tougher laws that came into effect Jan. 1, those drivers would have also had their vehicle seized for those three days.
There were 343 Criminal Code charges laid for driving while legally impaired or refusing to give a breath test when demanded by police. Upon conviction, those drivers will lose their licence for a year, pay penalties up to $17,750, and lose up to 20 points on their driving record. They also have to attend the three-day DWI program and have ignition interlock installed in their vehicle for at least one year after they get their licence back. This will cost them each thousands of dollars on top of legal fees. Once convicted, they'll have a criminal record which could make employment and traveling a challenge.
"If you know you're going to be drinking — plan a safe ride ahead of time. It's that simple. Because once you've been drinking, your judgment can be impaired and you may make the bad decision to get behind the wheel," said Cameron. "So take that temptation away, right from the start. Don't even take a vehicle if you're going to drink. Make plans to get there and back safe and sober."
While impaired driving was the focus last month, law enforcement were still looking out for other dangerous traffic offences. The following tickets were also issued in December1:
• 2,894 speeding violations
• 282 distracted driving offences (144 of those were for cellphone use)
• 167 tickets for inappropriate or no seatbelt/child safety seat
Drivers are reminded that SGI and law enforcement continue to focus on impaired driving throughout January. If you're going to drink, don't drive. If you're going to drive, don't drink. Always plan a safe ride home.
Impaired driving laws changed Jan. 1, 2017. Follow SGI on Facebook or Twitter for tips to #TakeCareOutThere.