Saskatchewan impaired driving violations surge in January, distracted driving trends downward

It has been a heavy start to the new year when it comes to impaired driving violations in Saskatchewan.

Police across the province reported 231 Criminal Codes charges for impaired driving and 53 roadside administrative suspensions in January.

However, there is good news. SGI said it is a representation of the focus being put on enforcing the law, and not about an increase in offences.

“When we look at collisions, injuries and fatalities caused by impaired driving, we see those numbers trending downward over the past decade, particularly over the past five years,” said Tyler McMurchy, SGI’s media relations manager.

“That’s, really, the important stats that we pay attention to, the number of people getting hurt and killed because that’s how you measure whether our roads are getting safer.”

Distracted driving violations trending downward

 Saskatchewan police issued 509 distracted driving tickets in Januray, 405 of which were for cellphone use.

Those numbers are down when compared to November and December of 2019.

There we 653 distracted driving tickets issued in November and 534 in December.

Beginning Feb. 1, SGI increased their distracted driving fines by almost double. For a first offence, drivers have to pay $580 while losing four demerit points.

“That is encouraging…we don’t want to see anybody get one of these tickets. We certainly think nobody wants to get a $580 distracted driving ticket,” McMurchy said.

A second offence, within a year of your first violation, will cost $1,400. The third offence is valued at $2,100.

SGI said it’s much more about safety than anything else.

“We want to see fewer people driving distracted because it’s a significant cause of collisions and injuries and fatalities on our roads,” McMurchy said.

“The only thing that has changed is the cost of the ticket. The laws around distracted driving have not changed and it’s to avoid getting a ticket. It starts with keeping your phone out your hand while you’re driving.”

Saskatchewan police also reported 428 tickets related to seat belts and car seats along with 5,563 tickets for speeding and aggressive driving.

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