New amendments target impaired drivers

Nov. 22, 2005 – SGI has furthered its commitment to making Saskatchewan roads safer by introducing amendments to The Traffic Safety Act. The amendments come into force when The Traffic Safety Act is proclaimed in 2006.

The most significant amendment strengthens the suspension for impaired drivers by establishing an immediate 24-hour licence suspension for drivers who fail a standard field sobriety test (SFST) due to alcohol or drug impairment. Drivers who refuse an SFST will also face immediate 24-hour suspension of their driver’s licence. Drivers can currently refuse the request for an SFST without any consequences.

“Saskatchewan has some of the strongest drinking and driving legislation in the country. The SFST will be the newest tool to help reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by impaired driving,” Minister Responsible for SGI Maynard Sonntag said.

“The SFST is considered one of the best methods of identifying impaired drivers and it will help law enforcement to take more drinking drivers off the road. Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in traffic fatalities in this province.”

The SFST, used at roadside to help officers determine whether a person’s ability to drive is impaired, includes the walk and turn test, one-leg stand test and a check for involuntary movement of the eyes.

The National Strategy to Reduce Impaired Driving (STRID 2010) recommends the SFST as a tool to be used in addition to breathalyzers to assist police in identifying and successfully removing impaired drivers from the road.

Another significant amendment to the Act is imposing a 15-day driver’s licence suspension after a second .04 blood alcohol content (BAC) violation within a five-year period. (Currently, a driver with three .04 BAC violations in five years is subject to an additional 90-day licence suspension.)

The changes are supported by the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police (SACP).

“Legislation that increases the consequences and therefore the deterrence of driving while impaired by any drug, including alcohol, is welcomed by the SACP and its member agencies,” President of SACP, Chief Terry G. Coleman, said. “The well-researched SFST is an excellent addition to the tools we have as police officers to work on behalf of our communities to ensure we all get home safely and in good health.”