don mcmorris

Don McMorris, the cabinet minister responsible for SGI, says he would like to see an appeals process to ease the burden of vehicle seizures in certain circumstances. (CBC)

Don McMorris, the provincial cabinet minister who oversees SGI, wants officials to consider an appeal process that could shorten the length of time a vehicle is impounded in certain circumstances. The issue arose after a business owner complained about losing a company vehicle due to the cell-phone infractions of a driver.

A new law in Saskatchewan allows authorities to impound vehicles for seven days where a driver has been caught, twice in a year, texting or talking on a cell phone while driving.

McMorris said Wednesday that he wants to encourage drivers to put down their cell phones while driving, but he does not want to cause undue hardship for the vehicle's owner, including businesses.

"I do want to look at an appeal process, so that it may not be a seven-day-impoundment, it may be a two- or three-day," he said.

McMorris added that employers need to be aware of what is going on in company vehicles.

"As an employer, if I knew I had a driver driving a 30-tonne truck, standard shift, going through an intersection where he's supposed to be signalling, watching traffic — and talking on the phone? I want, I need to have some responsibility there," he said.

Currently Saskatchewan is the only province that impounds vehicles for cell phone use by drivers.

Information provided to CBC News from SGI indicates that in the first two months that the expanded impound law was in effect (from June 27 to Aug. 27), five vehicles were impounded for seven days for double infractions of using electronic communication equipment while driving.

sgi stats

The table shows a list of offences and numbers of impounded vehicles (and length of impoundment) for infractions where impounding was available to authorities (since that law went into effect) from June 27 to Aug. 27. (Source: SGI)