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Entering the New Year with New Laws & New Tools to Combat Impaired Driving

by SGI

January Traffic Spotlight message is “#DriveSober – impaired is impaired”

As 2018 fades away like a puff of smoke, SGI and law enforcement remain focused on the issue of impaired driving, which kicks off 2019’s Traffic Safety Spotlight for January.

Another focus on impaired driving? You bet.

The battle against impaired driving is as relevant as ever with the legalization of cannabis in October, and a host of new federal and provincial laws brought in throughout 2018.

“Make 2019 the year you don’t even think about driving impaired,” said Penny McCune, Chief Operating Officer of the Auto Fund. “The acceptable number for drivers charged with impairment is zero. The acceptable number for people killed and hurt by impaired driving is zero. Every driver has the responsibility to never get behind the wheel when they’re impaired.”

Whether it’s marijuana, alcohol, or any other drug, impaired is impaired. Police have the training and tools to determine when someone is driving under the influence, and with recent changes to the laws around obtaining breath samples, impaired drivers are even more likely to get caught.

Speaking of the tools and training:
• New provincial legislation took effect in September bringing in tougher impaired driving laws, including zero-tolerance for drug-impaired driving and stronger penalties for impaired drivers transporting children
• A new federal law came into force on Dec. 18 enabling police to demand a roadside breath sample from any driver who has been lawfully stopped. (learn more – Government announces new alcohol-impaired driving laws will come into force).
• Police officers have been trained and certified to perform Drug Recognition Evaluations and Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
• Roadside saliva testers to detect recent drug use are expected to be in the hands of police in early 2019 (learn more – Ministry of Justice and Attorney of Canada Approves Roadside Drug Screening Equipment to Fight Drug-Impaired Driving).

Impaired driving is still the leading cause of death on Saskatchewan roads. In 2017, 39 per cent of traffic fatalities in Saskatchewan involved drug and/or alcohol use. To put that in perspective, the number one thing killing people on Saskatchewan roads is completely preventable.

Driving high comes with the same penalties as alcohol-impaired driving. This includes immediate and indefinite roadside licence suspensions for criminal charges, vehicle seizure up to 60 days, mandatory enrolment in SGI’s Driving Without Impairment education program and substantial financial penalties via Safe Driver Recognition program

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