New impaired driving laws take effect Jan. 1
Cellphone law also changing
Dec. 28, 2016
SGI is reminding Saskatchewan residents that impaired driving laws are changing in the new year. Tougher legislation was passed earlier this fall, with strengthened laws taking effect Jan. 1, 2017.
"These changes reinforce that driving when you've been drinking is the wrong decision," Minister responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave said. "Tougher consequences around vehicle seizures, licence suspensions and mandatory ignition interlock drive home the point that you risk not only your life but the lives of everyone else on the road when you choose to drive impaired. Don't risk it. Make a New Year's resolution to plan a sober ride — every time — so you and others get home safely."
Changes build on laws implemented in 2014 to strengthen impaired driving legislation in Saskatchewan. Starting Jan. 1:
- Experienced drivers who are charged for the first time with having a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .04 will have their vehicle seized for three days;
- There will be zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol for all drivers 21 and under and all new drivers; and,
- Ignition interlock laws will be the strongest in Canada, with mandatory ignition interlock for drivers who register a BAC of .16 or greater or refuse to provide a breath sample (1st offence — two years; 2nd offence — five years; 3rd and subsequent offence - 10 years).
"New laws take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, so make sure to plan a safe ride home from any New Year's Eve celebrations if you plan on drinking," said Hargrave. "If you're 21 or under or a new driver, remember that zero tolerance means you can't consume any alcohol or drugs before driving."
Safe ride options include: taking the bus with Ding in the New Year in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert; Operation Red Nose in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and The Battlefords; planning for a designated driver or using a designated driving service; calling a cab, friend or family member for a ride; or, planning to spend the night. Residents are reminded they can report suspected impaired drivers to police by calling 9-1-1.
In 2015 in Saskatchewan, there were nearly 1,200 impaired driving collisions, killing 54 people and injuring 580 others.
A new cellphone law is also in effect Jan. 1. To help prevent distracted driving, the cellphone law is expanding from "using" a cellphone while driving to "holding, viewing, using or manipulating" a cellphone while driving.
The following applies under both the current and new cellphone law:
- All drivers are prohibited from using hand-held cellphones.
- Experienced drivers can use hands-free devices, but new drivers can't.
- If the cellphone is mounted on the dash, clipped to the visor or in a cradle, it's considered hands-free and it's OK for an experienced driver to use it, provided they can access the phone with one touch of a button or voice commands.
Find more information about the changes.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province's self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI also works with a network of nearly 400 motor licence issuers across the province. Customers can now do some transactions online. Look for the MySGI link under Online Services on your motor licence issuer's website or SGI's website.