Last Monday, Saskatchewan announced changes to the province’s impaired driving laws.

In the weeks leading up to the announcement, public discussion centred on laws in other provinces and if changes could actually help to make a difference with drinking and driving in Saskatchewan — and the tolerant culture that surrounds it.

Laws are only part of the equation behind why people make the choice to drink and drive, according to Robert Mann, a senior scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Mann says the culture of drinking and driving is a factor.

“Our behaviour is going to be very much affected by our social groups and our families and so on. And so, if our friends and our families are doing something like driving after drinking, we’re more likely to do it as well,” he said.

Availability of alcohol can also influence people to drink and drive, Mann said. The easier it is to get alcohol, the more likely people are to drive impaired. Research has shown drinking-and-driving rates rise as alcohol-consumption levels rise.

One’s personality can also lead to the decision to drink and drive.

“Some people talk about the anti-social personality disorder, but (it) just may be a general disregard for the law or for social customs. People who kind of have those characteristics are more likely to be drinking drivers as well,” Mann said.

Saskatchewan, which has a staggeringly high rate of impaired driving compared to the rest of the country, introduced changes like increasing the zero-tolerance age, moving toward quicker vehicle seizures and longer mandatory ignition interlock penalties.

As the provincial government considered what changes to make, B.C. was mentioned frequently as an example of taking a hard line on the issue. In 2010, there were 62 deaths from car crashes involving alcohol and drugs in the province — the same year its impaired driving laws were updated.

In B.C., if you are caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01-.05, penalties start at three-day vehicle seizures and licence suspensions. Punishments can go up to 30-day vehicle seizures and licence suspensions if you are caught for a third time within a five-year period. Offenders can also be referred to the responsible driver program and have to install an ignition interlock.

In Alberta, there were 63 motor vehicle deaths involving alcohol and drugs in 2012. The province’s laws were updated that year, and within a year, there was a statistical reduction in drinking and driving in the province.

Driving with a BAC of over .08 can get your vehicle immediately seized in Alberta until the criminal charge is resolved. Following a criminal conviction for impaired driving, an ignition interlock is installed for one year for the first conviction and five years for the third conviction.

Manitoba updated its drinking and driving laws prior to 2012. In 2012, there were 18 car crash deaths involving alcohol and drugs in the province.

If you are found driving with a BAC of over .08 in Manitoba, there is a minimum fine of $1,000, a minimum one-year driving ban, and an ignition interlock must be installed as long as you are allowed to keep your vehicle.

*All statistics on drinking and driving motor vehicle accidents are from a report completed in 2012 by MADD Canada.

Source: Leader Post


Last updated on: 2016-12-22 | Link to this post