Saskatchewan Battling Drinking and Driving Problem


An impaired driver was recently ordered to pay over $100K for the damage he caused to a school building after crashing into it while impaired. The man has no recollection of his drive, his last memories are drinking at a bar with friends. The next thing he recalled was being in a hospital.

Jeremy Robinson, 25, was travelling at least 120 km/h according to police when he lost control in a turn smashing into a school and rolling his car. Police report he is lucky to have survived. His blood alcohol was 0.215 which is more than twice the legal limit. He pled guilty to driving with a BAC over .08 and the judge ordered the restitution order to save the school from a civil procedure. The Judge called the current state of drinking and driving in Saskatchewan as ‘frightening’ and noted that 13/21 cases on his docket that day were impaired drivers. Mr. Robinson is subject to probation conditions including abstaining form alcohol and bars for one year. Fortunately the school was empty at the time and no one other than Mr. Robinson was injured.

This news came fast on the heels of a recent poll conducted by Mainstreet Research, which found that one in five or 20% of Saskatchewan residents feel it is alright to drive after drinking if it's for short distances on 'quiet' roads. It is even more acceptable by those aged 19-34. Fifteen percent of respondents said they had been in a car with someone who'd been drinking.

As you can imagine the police, government, insurers and MADD are all extremely concerned by the results. It's a sad truth that most people don't perceive drinking and driving to be a serious problem until it impacts them directly. Saskatchewan already has stiff penalties for impaired driving but there is a push to make them more severe. Suggested solutions include:

  • seizure of the car after first offence
  • suspension of drivers licences for longer periods of time
  • increased enforcement

In Ontario impaired drivers face stiff penalties which vary with the licence you hold, your age,  and length of driving experience. All costs for educational programmes will be borne by the offender. Insurance rates will increase dramatically, and you may also have a criminal record upon conviction.

From the MTO website:

Zero BAC

The Zero BAC law means that certain drivers cannot have any presence of alcohol in their blood while they drive. This law applies to:

  • all drivers age 21 or under
  • novice drivers of any age

If you are caught with a BAC above zero, here is what will happen:

  • your driver's licence will be suspended on the spot for 24 hours
  • if convicted, your driver's licence will be suspended again for at least 30 days and you will receive a $60-$500 fine

If you are a novice driver and have your licence suspended for drinking and driving, your licence could be cancelled. You will also have to retake all your driving tests and repay all the fees.

If your BAC tests in the Warn Range (0.05 - 0.08) or you fail a Standard Field Sobriety Test:

Number of instances


First time

  • 3-day roadside licence suspension 
    (cannot be appealed)
  • $180 administrative monetary penalty

Second time (within 5 years)

  • 7-day roadside licence suspension 
    (cannot be appealed)
  • Mandatory education program
  • $180 administrative monetary penalty

Third and subsequent times (within 5 years)

  • 30-day roadside licence suspension 
    (cannot be appealed)
  • Mandatory treatment program
  • Six-month ignition interlock
  • $180 administrative monetary penalty

If you test over the legal limit of 0.08 OR refuse a drug or alcohol test OR you are deemed impaired following the results of a Drug Recognition Expert evaluation:

  • 90-day licence suspension
  • $180 administrative monetary penalty
  • 7 day vehicle impoundment

Post-Conviction Consequences for Alcohol and/or Drug Impaired Driving

If you are convicted criminally of impaired driving:

Number of instances


First time

  • Mandatory education or treatment program
  • 1 year minimum requirement to drive a car equipped with an ignition interlock device
  • No minimum jail sentence
  • $1,000 fine
  • Licence suspended for minimum 1 year*

Second time

  • Mandatory education or treatment program
  • 3 year minimum requirement to drive a car equipped with an ignition interlock device
  • 30-day minimum jail sentence
  • Fine amount at the discretion of the judge
  • Licence suspended for minimum 3 years

Third and subsequent times

  • Mandatory education or treatment program
  • Variable interlock periods (depending on sequence of prior convictions)
  • 120-day minimum jail sentence
  • Fine amount at the discretion of the judge
  • Lifetime licence suspension (can be reduced to 10 years if certain conditions are met)

Penalties for impaired driving convictions.

*The Reduced Suspension with Ignition Interlock Conduct Review Program allows eligible drivers convicted for the first time of an alcohol impaired driving offence under the Criminal Code to reduce their licence suspension in return for meeting specific requirements, such as the mandatory installation of an approved ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

Education and treatment programs

You will need to participate in an education or treatment program if you have:

  • been convicted of an impaired driving-related offence
  • received more than one licence suspension (within a 10 year period) for any combination of:
    • driving with a BAC above zero while you are 21 years and under;
    • driving with a BAC above zero while you are a novice driver;
    • driving with a BAC above 0.05 (“warn range”);
    • driving with a BAC above 0.08 (“legal limit”);
    • failing or refusing to comply with a demand for alcohol or drug testing; and
    • driving impaired by a drug or a combination of a drug and alcohol
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