Saskatchewan to strengthen impaired, distracted driving laws

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Regina, Saskatchewan — December 21, 2016 — Saskatchewan is bringing in new, tougher traffic laws to help curb intoxicated and distracted driving. The new regulations will come into effect on January 1, 2017.

Currently, drivers in Saskatchewan are prohibited from using a cellphone while driving. The new law will see drivers prohibited from holding, viewing, using or manipulating a cellphone while driving.

This means any handheld mobile devices are prohibited for both new and experienced drivers. The term “new drivers” refers to anyone in a Graduated Driver Licensing program, regardless of age. New drivers won’t be permitted to use hands-free cellphones, but experienced drivers can use the devices if they are activated with voice commands or one-touch, and are dashboard, visor or cradle mounted.

The province is also strengthening its laws regarding impaired driving. The new law will see police seizing vehicles for experienced drivers with a .04 – .08 BAC, on the first offence. The length of time ignition interlocks will be required is also set to increase, depending on the number of offences. The current law requires an ignition interlock be placed on the perpetrator’s vehicle for one year on the first offence, two years on the second offence, and five years on the third and subsequent offences.

The new laws generally increase the length of time, as well as subdividing the offence into two categories. In the first category, experienced drivers with a BAC of .08 to .159 will see the time increase to two years for the second offence and 10 years for the third and subsequent offences. Experienced drivers who either have a BAC of over .16 or refuse to provide a breath sample will have an ignition interlock placed on their car for two years for the first offence, five years for the second offence and 10 years for the third and subsequent offences.

New drivers and drivers 21 and under must have a BAC of zero at all times. In these cases, the third offence would see a mandatory ignition interlock placed on the vehicle for 365 days following a 365-day license suspension.

Given the upcoming new regulations, it’s fitting that SGI and law enforcement across the province put a special focus on impaired driving recently, nabbing nearly 300 intoxicated drivers in the process.

The blitz took place throughout November, with police recording a total of 279 offences related to impaired driving. A few of these offences were for drivers having a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .04-.08, but the vast majority (269) were Criminal Code charges for impaired driving, with the drivers showing a BAC over .08 or for refusing a breath test.

Police also reported at total of 284 distracted driving offences for the same time period. Of those, 161 were for cell phone use.


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