December 1, 2017

You might know better than to drive home drunk from the holiday party – but what about the person in the car next to you?

Police agencies in Saskatchewan have been working with the public to combat the issue through the Report Impaired Drivers – or RID – program since 2011.

Saskatoon police spokesperson Kelsie Fraser said RID encourages people to call 911 when they spot a driver they feel might be impaired.

“If you see them driving erratically, speeding up, slowing down, swerving in the lane, that sort of thing,” Fraser said. “We’re often able to locate the vehicle with the information callers provide us.”

People are asked where the driver was spotted, the direction of travel and the type of behaviour being exhibited.

A description of the vehicle – plus licence plate number, if possible and what the driver looks like also helps officers track them down.

Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 this year, 164 people have been charged with impaired driving in Saskatoon due to a RID call.

Over that same period, 50 calls have led to impaired charges in Regina.

“There are times when we are able to locate the driver and there are times when we are not,” she said. “That is when the letter is sent home.”

That letter is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle explaining a report of suspected impaired driving was made by a member of the public.

“It describes the driving behaviour, along with the time and location,” Fraser added.

The letters don’t impact someone’s driving record – as police can’t determine who was behind the wheel at the time – but Fraser said, anecdotally, it’s often appreciated by the registered owner.

Fraser noted if someone makes a report, they are welcome to ask for a follow-up on where the call led.

The RID program is a partnership led by SGI, the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority and various law enforcement agencies across the province, with support from Mothers Against Drunk Driving(MADD)and Students Against Drinking and Driving (SADD).

Impaired driving by the numbers

Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 this year, Saskatoon police received 2,279 RID calls. Officers intercepted 1,286 drivers and have charged 164 with impaired driving.

Since the RID program in Saskatoon is only assigned one officer to report on its numbers if there’s availability, year-over-year statistics are not available for 2016.

In 2015, there were less than 2,800 RID calls. Police intercepted 487, and charged 35 people found to have alcohol in their system.

The Regina Police Service posts its stats online to coincide with the monthly Board of Police Commissioners meeting and, therefore, has year-over-year numbers for 2016 and 2017.

Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 3, 2016, Regina police received 783 calls with officers either intercepting or making contact with 185 reported drivers.

Of those, 68 people were charged with impaired driving.

Over the same period this year, 647 RID calls have been made in Regina, with police either intercepting or making contact with 147 reported drivers.

Of those, 50 have been charged with impaired driving.