Stop driv­ing im­paired, urges SGI spokesman

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JEN­NIFER ACKERMAN

A nor­mally en­er­getic and witty Tyler Mc­murchy got emo­tional as he re­called the mo­ment he heard about an 11-year-old girl who died on Dec. 21 in a crash where al­co­hol was be­lieved to be a fac­tor.“I was sit­ting be­side my own 11-year-old kid look­ing at gifts un­der the tree,” said Mc­murchy, paus­ing to col­lect him­self. “I just can’t imag­ine be­ing that fam­ily a few days be­fore Christ­mas deal­ing with that.”Me­dia re­la­tions man­ager for SGI, Mc­murchy spoke to me­dia Fri­day morn­ing from Re­bel­lion Brew­ing’s taste room as part of a kick­off event for SGI’S Jan­uary Traf­fic Spot­light mes­sage: “#Drivesober — im­paired is im­paired,” which in­cluded a demon­stra­tion of a road­side al­co­hol breath tester by the Regina Po­lice Ser­vice (RPS).“When … we talk about sta­tis­tics, they’re not just num­bers. They’re peo­ple. Every sin­gle im­paired driv­ing fa­tal­ity doesn’t just hurt a sin­gle per­son, it de­stroys a fam­ily,” he said. “This just doesn’t need to hap­pen any­more.”Ac­cord­ing to SGI, 39 peo­ple died in the prov­ince as a re­sult of im­paired driv­ing in 2017.De­spite 2017 see­ing a record low num­ber of deaths due to im­paired driv­ing since SGI started record­ing such num­bers, it is still the num­ber-one cause of fa­tal­ity on Saskatchewan roads.As part of the kick­off event, SGI teamed up with Re­bel­lion Brew­ing, MADD Canada and the RPS to talk about changes to provin­cial and fed­eral leg­is­la­tion de­signed to com­bat im­paired driv­ing and re­mind peo­ple to make the safe choice to drive sober.“When­ever you are do­ing any­thing that might im­pair you, whether it’s al­co­hol, mar­i­juana or any­thing else, plan a safe ride,” said Mc­murchy. New provin­cial leg­is­la­tion that took ef­fect in Septem­ber brought tougher im­paired driv­ing laws, in­clud­ing zero tolerance for drug-im­paired driv­ing and stronger penal­ties for im­paired driv­ers trans­port­ing chil­dren.Changes to fed­eral im­paired driv­ing laws came into ef­fect ear­lier this month, mak­ing it eas­ier for po­lice to de­mand a road­side breath sam­ple.The new leg­is­la­tion states that po­lice of­fi­cers can de­mand that any law­fully stopped driver pro­vide a pre­lim­i­nary breath sam­ple to test for al­co­hol with­out rea­son­able sus­pi­cion that the driver has al­co­hol in their sys­tem.Un­der the old law, po­lice needed a rea­son­able sus­pi­cion of al­co­hol con­sump­tion — such as an odour of al­co­hol or an ad­mis­sion by the driver to hav­ing drank — to make a de­mand.“Manda­tory al­co­hol screen­ing is some­thing that we’ve ac­tu­ally been ad­vo­cat­ing for, for many years,” said Michelle Okere, re­gional man­ager for Saskatchewan with MADD Canada. “It is some­thing that we have seen have great re­sults in other coun­tries in­clud­ing New Zealand, Aus­tralia and many of the Euro­pean coun­tries that have im­ple­mented it.”Based on suc­cess in other coun­tries, Okere said Cana­di­ans can ex­pect to see a 20-per-cent drop in the num­ber of im­paired driv­ers on the road, which is the equiv­a­lent of 200 lives saved and 12,000 fewer in­juries across Canada.To those skep­ti­cal of the new law, RPS In­spec­tor Cory Lind­skog said po­lice are still re­quired to make law­ful stops be­fore con­duct­ing a road­side breath test, which he de­scribed as quick and un­ob­tru­sive.“The road­side test is about four or five sec­onds,” said Lind­skog. “If you haven’t been drink­ing it re­ally shouldn’t cause you any is­sue at all.”Law­ful stops in­clude check­ing for li­cence or reg­is­tra­tion, if there’s been a Crim­i­nal Code driv­ing of­fence or if a driver vi­o­lated the Traf­fic Safety Act.Re­bel­lion Brew­ing pres­i­dent Mark Heise said busi­nesses that sell al­co­hol have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to do their part to help com­bat im­paired driv­ing.That’s why the brew­ery takes part in SGI’S Be a Good Wing­man cam­paign and re­quires all staff to get their Serve it Right cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, which ed­u­cates servers about their le­gal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties when serv­ing liquor. “We’re ob­vi­ously in the busi­ness of sell­ing al­co­hol, but we can’t sell al­co­hol to peo­ple that are dead or in jail so we’ve got to find that bal­ance,” said Heise.Every ... fa­tal­ity doesn’t just hurt a sin­gle per­son, it de­stroys a fam­ily.

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