33 % of all alcohol related crash deaths involve those between the ages of 16 and 25
Article: Rikkeal Bohmann – News Editor
37 per cent of fatalities on Saskatchewan roads were alcohol related last year. In response to this, the Saskatchewan Government is enforcing tougher penalties for drinking and driving. This legislation will have a zero-tolerance for alcohol and drug use for those under 19, and those in the graduate license program.
Kelley Brinkworth of SGI commends the new legislation.
“It will just take a little bit of time to actually get the legislation in place, but yeah, I really hope it will, you know, make someone think twice about getting behind the wheel when drinking.”
The new laws will be in place in May of 2014.
Young people or those new to driving will have their vehicle taken away if any blood alcohol content (BAC) is found in their systems. The same will happen for other drivers with a BAC bewteen .08 and .15. Anyone who refuses to take a test will also have their vehicle seized. This is one of 14 measures being implemented on traffic safety measures by legislative committee.
SGI says that 33 per cent of all alcohol-related crash deaths involve those between the ages of 16 and 25, young people being largely over-represented in drinking and driving incidents, says Brinkworth.
Meaghann White, the president of Students Against Drinking and Driving (SADD) Saskatchewan, has seen the effects of drinking and driving.
“I know some friends in some communities close to Yorkton have lost people due to drinking and driving and it doesn’t just affect the community. It affects everybody around. A lot of people are related. It’s just something that’s a horrible disaster that doesn’t need to happen.” SADD is happy with the new legislation.
There are those who think this legislation is not going far enough, though. Danielle Chartier, a New Democrat MLA, believes that the standards should be even tougher, where vehicles should be able to be taken away with a BAC of .05 or more. Mothers Against Drinking and Driving (MADD) Canada also wants laws to be tougher. They would like to see the age extended to 21 for the zero tolerance policy.
MADD estimates that 9.76 out of every 100,000 die due to impaired driving in Saskatchewan. The national average is 3.17 out of every 100,000.
“It is something that is preventable. Drinking and driving is something we can make zero and eventually it will be,” says White.
Brinkworth recommends always planning a safe ride home.
“There’s lots of ways you can get home safely. Just never get behind the wheel while you’ve been drinking. Call a friend, take a taxi or public transportation, stay the night.”