Police and SGI cracking down on suspended drivers, unregistered vehicles
Officers are relying on automated licence plate scanners to nab more people
Police in Saskatchewan are relying on automated licence plate readers to help them catch more people who are driving without a licence or are behind the wheel of an unregistered vehicle.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance says police will target suspended drivers and unregistered vehicles for the month of November.
"People don't get suspended without cause," said Earl Cameron, executive vice-president of the Auto Fund — the province's insurance program — in an press release.
"They may have their driving privileges revoked due to impaired driving or other dangerous driving behaviours."
People who get into accidents without insurance can take a financial toll on the province, said police.
"Obviously if I don't have insurance and I [hit] somebody and it's going to cost SGI to hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay everything out, that money's got to come from somewhere," said Const. Curtis Warnar, who is with the Regina Police Service traffic safety unit.
That didn’t take long. 12 min after the media event, I stopped an unregistered vehicle from the ALPR <a href="https://twitter.com/reginapolice?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@reginapolice</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/SGItweets?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SGItweets</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DoNotRiskIt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DoNotRiskIt</a> <a href="https://t.co/VKVg8daAes">pic.twitter.com/VKVg8daAes</a>—@RPSTrafficUnit
SGI spokesman Tyler McMurchy also pointed to the money involved in an uninsured crash.
"You could be potentially on the hook for thousands of dollars in costs resulting from that collision," he said.
McMurchy said driving while uninsured is a bigger issue than most people would think. More than 50,000 drivers are suspended in Saskatchewan at any given time. In 2016, more than 1,800 people were convicted for driving while disqualified.
That's where the automated plate readers come in.
SGI has provided funding to equip dozens of police cars throughout the province with the devices in recent years, the Crown corporation said.
The readers have the capacity to scan one plate per second, according to SGI. Over a 12-hour patrol shift, they might scan up to 6,000 vehicles, Warnar said. He said that can result in 100 to 200 checks on plates in police or SGI databases.
The devices scan the licence plate, take a picture of it and provide the plate and vehicle information to the officers in the car.
Then officers decide whether to run the plates through a database — something they now have access to in the car.
Warnar said the automated plate readers don't retain the collected information.
"There's no right to privacy that we're infringing upon," he said. "It's the same as if everybody drives by and looks at your license plate."
The database is set up to look for criminally prohibited drivers and expired licence plates, but officers also have the power to add plates into the system. For example, they could add a plate number relevant to an Amber Alert case or a stolen vehicle incident.
Two police cars in Regina have the automated readers, and the service is getting a third in the fall.
People can expect to see more plate readers throughout Saskatchewan in the near future, McMurchy said.
Currently, there are 59 in the province that have been funded by SGI and others that have been paid for by police departments.