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Saskatchewan Drunk Driving Rules Moving To Zero Tolerance

11/07/2013 12:09 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
Flickr: ancawonka
Annoyingly, every time I went to open the door, the trunk, or turn on the ignition, I would hit the panic button on this PT Cruiser key. This was on a rental car, which hopefully I will never have to see again.
REGINA - Saskatchewan is bringing in a zero drug and alcohol tolerance policy for drivers under 19 and for all drivers in the graduated licensing program.

The move is one of 14 traffic safety measures the province is implementing based on recommendations by a legislative committee report in August.

Young or new drivers with alcohol in their systems will have their cars seized at the roadside. The same will happen with any drivers having a blood alcohol content between .08 and .15 or with those who refuse a test.

"We are doing the impoundment for your new drivers because there's more new drivers involved in accidents. We're going forward with impoundment of new drivers with zero tolerance," Donna Harpauer, minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, said Thursday.

New Democrat Danielle Chartier, who was on the legislative committee, says she wanted to see the government go further and seize the vehicles of impaired drivers whose blood alcohol level is .05 or higher.

"We can look to two other jurisdictions, Alberta and B.C., who have implemented short-term impoundments for those in the warning range or over .05. They're high-risk drivers who have not yet got a criminal conviction," said Chartier.

"In B.C., they've reduced their impaired driving death rates by more than 50 per cent in two years with this policy."

MADD Canada also believes the changes to Saskatchewan's impaired driving laws don't go far enough, especially when it comes to drivers in .the 04 to .08 blood alcohol range.

The organization says zero tolerance should be extended to all drivers 21 and under.

"These changes will have some benefit, but there is much more the province could be doing to address the problem of impaired driving," said Louise Twerdy, MADD's western region services manager.

"If we want to significantly reduce impaired driving crashes, deaths and injuries in Saskatchewan, we need to go further than the changes announced today."

MADD estimates that Saskatchewan has the highest per capita rate of alcohol-related road crash deaths among the provinces. It says an estimated 9.76 of every 100,000 people die because of impaired driving in Saskatchewan — higher than the national average of 3.17 people in every 100,000.

Other changes announced Thursday include mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted impaired drivers.

The province is also implementing a two-year photo radar pilot project at high-risk locations and in school zones in Moose Jaw, Regina and Saskatoon.

It's also making booster seats mandatory for children under the age of seven, who weigh less than 80 pounds and who are shorter than four-foot-nine.

The legislative committee made 26 recommendations in its report.

One of the suggestions not acted on Thursday was that the word "holding" be added to legislation that bans talking on hand-held electronic devices while at the wheel.

Harpauer says more work needs to be done on that recommendation.

"We need to define holding before we can implement it."

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