SGI has teamed up with local law enforcement to spread one New Year’s resolution they hope Saskatchewanians will keep this upcoming year: to drive sober.
Last January, the province strengthened its impaired driving laws. Experienced drivers pulled over with blood alcohol content (BAC) levels of .04 to .08 now receive a three-day vehicle seizure and license suspension, and first-timers caught driving with a BAC over .16 are required to have a mandatory two-year ignition interlock. The zero-tolerance age was also raised to 21 for drivers using alcohol or drugs.
While Saskatchewan’s impaired driving statistics haven’t been totally tallied this year, 57 people were killed and 464 others were injured in impaired driving collisions in 2016.
“These numbers are all too high for something that’s 100 per cent preventable,” SGI spokesperson Tyler McMurchy said.
“Anybody would rather be woken up in the morning to drive a family member home than to answer their door to a police officer telling them they’re not coming home.”
As an officer who’s had to make that walk to someone’s front door, Sgt. Ian Barr with the Regina Police Service agreed.
He said getting caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol means losing freedom.
“You’re going to lose your vehicle, you may get a criminal record — and that’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario is if you hurt someone,” Sgt. Barr said.
Working directly with victims of impaired driving and their families, Michelle Okere, regional manager of MADD Canada, added that for many, the severity of it is still not sinking in with many across the province.
“Everyone thinks it’ll never happen to them, but we know 57 people died last year as a result of impaired driving — just in Saskatchewan alone. This is something that happens all too often,” Okere said.
This New Year’s Eve, extra Regina police and RCMP officers will be patrolling city streets, highways and gravel roads, doing check stops and keeping an eye out for impaired drivers.
However, Sgt. Barr encourages citizens to be mindful as well, and to contact police if they believe someone is driving impaired. If they do notice anything, people are urged to call 911 with the driver’s license plate number.
Safe ride home options
There are plenty of alternatives to having some bubbly and then getting behind the wheel this New Year’s Eve.
Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert are offering free transit.
- From 7 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. in Regina
- From 8 p.m. until about 2:45 a.m. in Saskatoon
- From 7:55 p.m. until 3:15 a.m. in Moose Jaw
- From 7:15 p.m. until 3 a.m. in Prince Albert
Operation Red Nose, a safe ride service that drives both you and your vehicle home on a donation basis, will also run in Regina, Saskatoon, Yorkton, North Battleford and Prince Albert.