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Tougher impaired driving penalties in Saskatchewan starting Sept. 1

The Saskatchewan government is toughening penalties for impaired driving in the province, including zero tolerance for drug impaired drivers. Files / Global News

Impaired drivers in Saskatchewan will face tougher penalties starting Sept. 1.

Among the changes passed during the spring sitting of the legislature are zero tolerance for drug impaired drivers of all ages and longer vehicle seizures for impaired drivers with passengers under the age of 16.

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“It’s never OK to drive impaired, whether it’s by drugs or alcohol,” said Joe Hargrave, the minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI).

“This new legislation reflects the seriousness of this offence, with more severe punishments for drug-impaired drivers, and those who make the bad decision to drive with children in the vehicle.”

Vehicles will be seized for up to 60 days for impaired drivers with kids under the age of 16 in a vehicle and drivers will have their licence suspended for up to 120 days.

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The licence suspension is longer for new drivers, up to 18 months.

Zero tolerance for drug impaired drivers will apply, whether or not the drug is legal.

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Vehicles can be seized for up to 60 days, and the driver will receive an immediate licence suspension. If convicted, the licence suspension could be up to five years.

Police will use a standardized field sobriety test or roadside screening device if a driver is believed to be impaired by alcohol, a drug, or both.

Failing the test or screening device can result in a vehicle being seized and a licence suspension for at least three days.

The driver could also be taken to a police station for a breathalyzer test or evaluation by a drug recognition evaluator (DRE).

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Criminal charges will be triggered for anyone failing a DRE or exceeding .08, resulting in a minimum 30-day vehicle seizure, and indefinite licence suspension.

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A convictions could result in a fine, jail time, ignition interlock requirements, and driving prohibitions.

Saskatchewan also updated its laws so administrative penalties in the province will also apply to anyone charged under three new federal drug impaired driving laws.

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