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Estevan Police Chief warns about DUIs as impaired driving charges creep up

"Driving impaired is a crime. And it's dangerous. Impaired driving is still responsible for more deaths on Saskatchewan roads than any other factor," said Lowen. "Just don't drive impaired. There are choices out there. Make sure you make the right choice."
Richard Lowen
Estevan Police Chief Richard Lowen.

ESTEVAN — Estevan Police Chief Rich Lowen is asking the community to always choose safe ways to get home ahead of the Christmas season and throughout the year, and to never drive impaired.

While the message has been consistent throughout the years – impaired driving is not an option – the number of impaired driving charges has been increasing throughout the year.

"Right across the province, we are seeing an increase in relation to impaired driving charges. And we're seeing it here in Estevan as well. So, when we look at the year-to-date charges on our impaired/exceed offences, in 2023 we had 111, compared to last year, when we were at 77 [over the same period of time]. That's a 44 per cent increase," Lowen said.

"That isn't specific to Estevan. It's very consistent right across the entire province that there has been an increase in charges relating to impaired driving. And it's not necessarily to do with alcohol, there seems to be an increase in drug impairment charges as well."

He noted that there is no specific reason for the increase and it's rather a combination of various factors, such as increased efforts in battling this criminal offence, as well as the fact that officers now have more tools and knowledge to detect drivers impaired by drugs.

"We don't know why there's an increase other than we're also increasing our enforcement, so sometimes those measures come across as an increase in numbers. But I think there's also more ability for law enforcement to charge in relation to drug offences because their officers have become more proficient in terms of recognizing drug impairment. And those charges start to creep up as well," Lowen said.

In the meantime, the mass educational campaign by law enforcement and SGI continues in the hopes of delivering the message to every driver, current and future, in the province. The messages they send out are loud and clear.

"Driving impaired is a crime. And it's dangerous. Impaired driving is still responsible for more deaths on Saskatchewan roads than any other factor," said Lowen.

"There's always an option to choose a designated driver, call a designated driving service, take a cab, call a friend or stay the night.

"Just don't drive impaired. There are choices out there. Make sure you make the right choice.

"And planning ahead always helps, so that you don't have to make the choice at the last minute when you're impaired."

The Estevan Police Service will be increasing its efforts to ensure the community's safety around holiday times. They also plan on partnering with the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for the annual positive ticketing campaign.

"We always increase our check stop program around December, and we'll be doing that again this year," Lowen said.

"And we usually get involved with MADD along the check stop program, and they help us [with thanking drivers for driving sober]. We'll be doing that again this year, as well … And we'll do the regular enforcement that we usually do along with the impaired driving check stop programs around the entire month of December and going into the new year as well."