Saskatchewan is moving to stiffen penalties for people who drive impaired with children in their vehicle.

Motorists with a blood alcohol level of .04 or higher driving with children under 16 would face longer roadside licence suspensions and vehicle seizures under the legislation introduced Thursday.

The Traffic Safety Amendment Act would impose an immediate seven-day driving suspension for a first offence, up from the current three-day roadside suspension, in addition to any penalties resulting from an impaired-driving conviction.

First-time offenders would also have their vehicles seized for seven days, up from three.

“Impaired driving is always a terrible choice, but willfully putting children at risk deserves additional penalties,” Joe Hargrave, the minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, said in a news release.

“This legislation is another tool in our government’s fight against Saskatchewan’s impaired driving problem.”

Under the legislation, repeat offenders who transport passengers under the age of 16 would face more-severe consequences.

Licence suspensions for a second offence would increase to 30 days from 21, while a third offence would trigger a 120 day suspension, up from the current 90. New drivers already face licence suspensions of up to 18 months for a third offence.

Vehicle suspensions would increase from seven to 30 days for a second offence and from 14 to 60 days for a third offence. Vehicle owners are responsible for all towing and impounding costs, and the changes to the length of vehicle seizures would apply to both experienced and new drivers.

Other amendments under the bill include:

  • Extending the look-back period for impaired-driving penalties to 10 years from five, which would allow SGI to administer harsher penalties for repeat offenders
  • Allowing law enforcement to issue an indefinite administrative suspension. The change would make the roadside consequences for those charged with impaired driving under the Criminal Code consistent with those charged with exceeding a blood-alcohol level of .08 and refusing a breath or blood test, field sobriety test or drug-recognition evaluation
  • Updating the rules for slowing to 60 kilometres per hour on highways when passing highway equipment, including snow plows that are stopped with lights flashing, to make them consistent with rules for passing emergency vehicles and tow trucks