Saskatchewan is investing $800,000 in 32 more automated license plate readers to help police catch disqualified drivers.
Sixty police officers will be dedicated to traffic safety enforcement, targeting roadways and intersections in the central and southeast parts of the province with a focus on impaired driving.
SGI will also be providing $500,000 for law enforcement to increase check stops targeting impaired driving.
With Saskatchewan having the highest percentage of impaired drivers in the country, the province is also increasing the punishment for people caught behind the wheel.
On Monday, the Ministry of Justice and SGI announced changes to Saskatchewan’s impaired driving laws:
- Add a three-day vehicle seizure for experienced drivers who are charged for the first time with having a blood alcohol content (BAC) between 0.04 to 0.08.
- 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 (blood alcohol concentration) over .16 or refuse to provide a breath sample (first offence – two years; second offence – five years; third and subsequent offence – 10 years).
In 2015, Saskatchewan had nearly 1,200 impaired driving accidents, killing 53 people and injuring 578 others.
According to SGI, 39 per cent of all alcohol-related collisions in Saskatchewan in 2015 involved drivers with BAC lower than 0.08.
SGI is also supporting drivers in changing behaviour by raising awareness of impaired driving consequences through multi-media advertising campaigns and social media channels.
Campaigns are underway now and will continue into 2017 and beyond.
To combat distracted driving, and in response to recommendations from law enforcement, government is also strengthening cellphone legislation by changing the offence to “holding, viewing, using or manipulating” a mobile device while driving, instead of the current “using” a mobile device.
Both the governing Saskatchewan Party and opposition NDP agreed to quickly pass the legislation.
The changes will take effect on January 1, 2017.