According to new data released by Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), there were 414 impaired driving offences in the province in December, including 240 Criminal Code of Canada charges and 174 sanctions such as license suspensions. While the number of criminal charges laid was the lowest in the month of December since at least 2019, the number of sanctions issued doubled from December 2021, and was by far the highest in at least four years.
In his interview with CBC News, SGI spokesperson Tyler McMurchy said that the increase in the number of sanctions this year reflects the fact that the police have better tools and training to determine which drivers used drugs before driving.
“Nobody is under any false illusions that drivers were not driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs prior to legalization,” he said. “But when legalization came in, there were also additional laws that came into effect, and police were also given more ability to test drivers…so police in Saskatchewan are using it.”
In addition, McMurchy added that SGI cannot speculate on the impact public health restrictions, or the lack thereof, had on the rise in the number of reported offences. Specifically, CGI data shows that police reported a higher number of impaired driving offences in December 2020 and December 2021 than in December 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, McMurchy said that thousands of people in Saskatchewan opted not to drive while impaired in December 2022, and encouraged residents to drink responsibly and plan a safe ride home in the upcoming year.
Moreover, SGI reported to have issued 254 tickets for seatbelt and occupant restraint offences, 2,931 tickets for speeding and aggressive driving offences, 491 tickets for distracted driving, 411 tickets for using a cell phone while driving, and 80 tickets for driving without due care and attention.