A normally energetic and witty Tyler McMurchy got emotional as he recalled the moment he heard about an 11-year-old girl who died on Dec. 21 in a crash where alcohol was believed to be a factor.

“I was sitting beside my own 11-year-old kid looking at gifts under the tree,” said McMurchy, pausing to collect himself. “I just can’t imagine being that family a few days before Christmas dealing with that.”

Media relations manager for SGI, McMurchy spoke to media Friday morning from Rebellion Brewing’s taste room as part of a kickoff event for SGI’s January Traffic Spotlight message: “#DriveSober — impaired is impaired,” which included a demonstration of a roadside alcohol breath tester by the Regina Police Service (RPS).

“When … we talk about statistics, they’re not just numbers. They’re people. Every single impaired driving fatality doesn’t just hurt a single person, it destroys a family,” he said. “This just doesn’t need to happen anymore.”

Tyler McMurchy, media relations officer at SGI, at a demonstration of SGI’s Rollover Simulator during a press conference to mark the 40th year of the province’s seatbelt law on June 28, 2017.

According to SGI, 39 people died in the province as a result of impaired driving in 2017.

Despite 2017 seeing a record low number of deaths due to impaired driving since SGI started recording such numbers, it is still the number-one cause of fatality on Saskatchewan roads.

As part of the kickoff event, SGI teamed up with Rebellion Brewing, MADD Canada and the RPS to talk about changes to provincial and federal legislation designed to combat impaired driving and remind people to make the safe choice to drive sober.

“Whenever you are doing anything that might impair you, whether it’s alcohol, marijuana or anything else, plan a safe ride,” said McMurchy.

New provincial legislation that took effect in September brought tougher impaired driving laws, including zero tolerance for drug-impaired driving and stronger penalties for impaired drivers transporting children.

Changes to federal impaired driving laws came into effect earlier this month, making it easier for police to demand a roadside breath sample.

The new legislation states that police officers can demand that any lawfully stopped driver provide a preliminary breath sample to test for alcohol without reasonable suspicion that the driver has alcohol in their system.

Under the old law, police needed a reasonable suspicion of alcohol consumption — such as an odour of alcohol or an admission by the driver to having drank — to make a demand.

“Mandatory alcohol screening is something that we’ve actually been advocating for for many years,” said Michelle Okere, regional manager for Saskatchewan with MADD Canada. “It is something that we have seen have great results in other countries including New Zealand, Australia and many of the European countries that have implemented it.”

WATCH BELOW: Cst. Marcus Simons with the Regina Police Service demonstrates how to use a roadside alcohol breath tester on volunteer Jennifer Sully, communications officer for SGI during an event to address impaired driving put on by SGI on Dec. 28, 2017.

Based on success in other countries, Okere said Canadians can expect to see a 20-per-cent drop in the number of impaired drivers on the road, which is the equivalent of 200 lives saved and 12,000 fewer injuries across Canada.

To those skeptical of the new law, RPS Inspector Cory Lindskog said police are still required to make lawful stops before conducting a roadside breath test, which he described as quick and unobtrusive.

“The roadside test is about four or five seconds,” said Lindskog. “If you haven’t been drinking it really shouldn’t cause you any issue at all.”

Lawful stops include checking for licence or registration, if there’s been a Criminal Code driving offence or if a driver violated the Traffic Safety Act.

Rebellion Brewing president Mark Heise said businesses that sell alcohol have a responsibility to do their part to help combat impaired driving.

That’s why the brewery takes part in SGI’s Be a Good Wingman campaignand requires all staff to get their Serve it Right certification, which educates servers about their legal responsibilities when serving liquor.

“We’re obviously in the business of selling alcohol, but we can’t sell alcohol to people that are dead or in jail so we’ve got to find that balance,” said Heise.

As usual, Lindskog said people can expect to see an increased police presence on the streets to enforce impaired driving laws over New Year’s.

“It’s a priority for us to keep the public safe,” he said.

Source: Leader Post


Last updated on: 2019-04-22 | Link to this post