Saskatchewan bar owners are keeping close tabs on changes coming to the province’s drunk driving laws.
Starting next year, anyone pulled over with a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .04 and .08 will face an instant three-day vehicle seizure on a first offence.
The province is also going to make repeat offenders use ignition interlock devices for longer and will raise the cutoff age for zero BAC tolerance from 19 to 21, with a 60-day licence suspension on a first offence.
Jim Benceis, president of the Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association, agrees a crackdown on drunk driving is necessary. However, he said the new laws will have a serious impact on small town bars where customers have fewer options for finding a safe ride home.
“Two operators said this really could be the beginning of the end for them,” Benceis said.
But he said they’re looking for solutions.
“What I love about members is that it isn’t just about what’s the problem, but what are some possible solutions we can come up with that will allow people to have a good time and get home safely?” Benceis added.
A ride-sharing program is among the possibilities being considered.
“There are models out there we could look at and you know, have some good conversations with the province and SGI because there are some liability considerations,” Benceis said. “But there are solutions out there and we need to talk about them and explore them and we need to do it now.”