Sask. to lead country on drunk-driving rules, defence lawyer says

A prominent Saskatchewan defence lawyer says the provincial government should be commended for introducing tougher rules to fight drinking and driving.

Mark Brayford says tougher penalties will cause more drivers to think twice

Saskatchewan's rules aimed at stopping drunk drivers will be toughened up, starting on Jan. 1, 2017. (GP Mendoza/CBC)

A prominent Saskatchewan defence lawyer says the provincial government should be commended for introducing tougher rules to fight drinking and driving.

Mark Brayford, who was interviewed Tuesday by Morning Edition host Sheila Coles, says proposed changes to legislation could help reduce the rate of impaired driving because the threat of increased penalties will make people think twice before driving impaired. 

"We are going to lead the country in harsh penalties here and hopefully people are aware of that," Brayford said.

The province announced an array of proposed changes on Monday including:

  • Raising the "zero tolerance" age for young drivers from 18 and under to 21 and under.
  • 3-day vehicle seizures for people whose blood alcohol content is between .04 and .08 per cent.

Brayford said he's impressed at how quickly the changes are moving through the provincial legislature. The new, tougher rules are set to become law on Jan. 1, 2017.
 
Although he represents people charged with impaired driving, he agrees that tougher rules can be a deterrent.

"Just because I defend people doesn't mean I'm in favour of weaker penalties," he said.

According to Saskatchewan Government Insurance, some 44 per cent of traffic fatalities in Saskatchewan are alcohol-related.