Police focusing on impaired driving in August

August 1, 2019 10:35 am

Heading into the August long weekend and throughout the month, police across Saskatchewa will be focusing on impaired driving as it is the top cause of road crash fatalities in Saskatchewan.

“While we have seen significant reductions in impaired driving injuries and fatalities over the previous decade, far too many people still make the potentially deadly decision to drive after drinking or using drugs,” said Penny McCune, Chief Operating Officer of the Auto Fund.

“Police agencies across Saskatchewan have made impaired driving enforcement a top priority,” said Saskatoon Police Staff Sgt. Patrick Barbar. “A plan is all you need to avoid becoming a statistic; get a designated driver, take a cab or rideshare car, stay over or use transit.”

While police work hard to enforce Saskatchewan’s driving laws, members of the public can help address the impaired driving problem as well.

Be a good wingman, and stop impaired friends and family from driving. Call them a safe ride (sober friend, taxi, designated driving service, or rideshare), or offer them a place to stay over.

If you observe someone you suspect is driving while impaired, you are encouraged to call 9-1-1 to report it through the Report Impaired Drivers (RID) program.

Callers should try to provide as many details as possible: the location and direction the vehicle is travelling, the make, model and colour of the vehicle, licence plate number, a description of the driver and the suspicious driving behaviour.

10 possible signs of an impaired driver:
1. Drifting in and out of lanes
2. Driving unreasonably fast, slow or at an inconsistent speed
3. Tailgating and changing lanes frequently
4. Making exceptionally wide turns
5. Changing lanes or passing without sufficient clearance
6. Overshooting or stopping well before stop signs or stop lights
7. Disregarding signals and lights
8. Approaching or leaving intersections too quickly or slowly
9. Driving with windows open in cold or inclement weather
10. Driving without headlights, failing to lower high beams or leaving turn signals on

Saskatchewan has strict impaired driving laws, with zero tolerance for drug-impaired driving for all drivers, zero alcohol tolerance for new drivers, and penalties starting at .04 blood alcohol content (BAC) for experienced drivers.

If the driver performs poorly on a field sobriety test or registers a failure on the roadside screening device, they can have their vehicle seized and licence suspended for at least three days. If the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a driver is impaired by a drug or alcohol they can demand that the driver submit to an evaluation conducted by a Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE) or a breath test at the police station.

If a driver subsequently performs poorly on a Drug Recognition Evaluation, or exceeds .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC), that triggers Criminal Code charges. This results in a minimum 30-day vehicle seizure, an indefinite licence suspension until the charges are dealt with, and – upon conviction – potential fines, jail time, ignition interlock requirements and driving prohibitions.