The laws around impaired driving are getting a lot tougher in Saskatchewan beginning June 27, 2014. Instead of the current 30 day licence suspension, new drivers caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will face a 60 day licence suspension and will have their vehicle seized for three days. That is just for a first offence – penalties increase based on the number of offences. Experienced drivers will also face longer licence suspensions and vehicle seizures.
These are some of the many changes resulting from recommendations made by the Special Committee on Traffic Safety. The committee was formed by government last year to address the high rate of injuries and fatalities on Saskatchewan’s roads.
“Harsher penalties are aimed at deterring the unsafe choices some Saskatchewan drivers are making,” Minister responsible for SGI Donna Harpauer said. “We want drivers to think twice before making a bad decision, like getting behind the wheel after drinking or texting while driving.”
Other traffic laws being introduced in the province effective June 27 include:
•Convicted impaired drivers will face mandatory user-pay installation of an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a minimum nine months on a first offence and up to five years for subsequent offences.
•Drug-impaired drivers will face the same consequences as drinking drivers.
•Drivers caught using their cellphone while driving for the second time within one year will have their vehicle seized for up to seven days.
•Drivers will face harsher penalties when they’re travelling at 35 km/hr or more over the speed limit (compared to the current 50 km/hr).
•Booster seats will be mandatory for children under seven years of age, less than 145 cm (4’9”) in height and under 36 kg (80 lbs) in weight.
•Photo radar will be piloted at three high-risk locations (Circle Drive in Saskatoon, Highway 1 and 9th Avenue intersection in Moose Jaw, and Ring Road in Regina) and in school zones.
Recommendations made by the Motorcycle Review Committee will also result in changes this summer, many with a focus on new riders:
•Riders in the Motorcycle Graduated Driver Licensing (MGDL) program and their passengers will be required to have their arms and legs covered, wear hand-covering gloves, ankle-covering boots, and either an approved three-quarter, modular or full-face motorcycle helmet.
•MGDL riders will have to place a placard on their licence plate to indicate they are a new rider. Placards will display a red L for riders in the learner stage and a green N for riders in the novice stages.
•Drivers will be required to hold a Class 5 or higher driver’s licence before applying for a motorcycle learner’s licence.
•New riders will have to demonstrate their ability to operate a motorcycle through a basic ability test or successfully complete an approved training program before getting a motorcycle learner’s licence.
For more information about these traffic safety changes, visit SGI’s website at www.sgi.sk.ca.