By: Luke Jones, Published on January 23, 2018 07:48 AM, Last Update on January 23, 2018 04:50 AM
December 2017 saw a record low number of offences for impaired driving, according to Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI). The public insurance provider said numbers were lower than any December over the four years it has been doing monthly traffic safety spotlight.
Traditionally, December is a month with more DUI cases because of the Holiday Season. SGI suggests falling numbers in 2017 could mean drivers are waking up to the dangers of impaired driving.
“Overall, we think attitudes are changing in Saskatchewan,” Tyler McMurchy, SGI’s manager of media relations, told Canadian Underwriter. “Impaired driving isn’t acceptable anymore. We don’t think Saskatchewan people want our province to be known for having high impaired driving rates.
“We think more people are getting the message that it is never OK to drive impaired… and the minority who make the poor decision to drive when impaired are increasingly likely to be caught.”
The December 2017 traffic safety spotlight was released last week and points to 238 impaired-driving offences. 205 of the offences were Criminal Code charges, including refusing to take a breath test. There were an additionally 33 roadside suspensions issued by Saskatchewan police. Suspensions are given for experienced drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) ranging from .04 to .08.
SGI says the 238 December 2017 offences are significantly lower than other years. During the same month in 2016, there were 353 offences, while in December 2015 there were 308. December 2015, the year the spotlights began, was the highest amount of offences, with 381.
The most recent results are a drastic decrease from the 353 impaired driving offences reported for the December 2016 traffic safety spotlight. There were 308 in December 2015 and 381 in December 2014.
McMurchy says legislation to clamp down on offenders and awareness campaigns have helped reduce numbers. For example, “there has been a lot of discussion of impaired driving in the media” and the province’s high rate “is often referenced in media stories and there have been some high-profile drinking and driving criminal cases in which innocent people were killed by impaired drivers.”
“A lot of people think it’s just not worth the risk to drive after even two to three drinks,” McMurchy said. “Bars and licensed establishments are making special efforts to make sure their customers get home safe, including driving them home in some cases.”
SGI also detailed the following offences from the December 2017 spotlight: