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Saskatchewan pushes up fines for driving offenses

REGINA, Sask. - Saskatchewan virtually doubled the cost of many of its on-highway fines Aug. 1, with a new rate schedule that brings the province's penalties in line with other western jurisdictions.A...

REGINA, Sask. – Saskatchewan virtually doubled the cost of many of its on-highway fines Aug. 1, with a new rate schedule that brings the province’s penalties in line with other western jurisdictions.

Among the new penalties unveiled by Saskatchewan Justice, a vehicle placarded for dangerous goods that fails to stop at a level railway crossing will be charged $150, up from $65. The fine for failing to keep to the right when you’re required jumps from $65 to $125, while the penalty for following another vehicle too closely goes from $65 to $100. The fine for unnecessary noise, meanwhile, edges up only slightly from $65 to $75.

A series of violations relating to the improper operation of lights and signals almost doubles, from $55 to $100. This includes offences such as failing to dim headlights within 200 m of an approaching vehicle and failing to dim headlights when being overtaken by another vehicle.

The fine for failing to wear a seatbelt rises from $75 to $100.

On the vehicle equipment regulation side, the change in fines has more to do with vehicle ownership.

“Violations of equipment regulations use to mean a straight fine that had two levels, individual and corporate,” said Mitch Crumbly, a spokesman for Saskatchewan Justice. “So the individual owner might pay $65 while the corporate owner would pay $100 for the same violation. Now there is no distinction made between violators, and the level of the fine is determined by vehicle weight.”

For example, if a vehicle is found to have inadequate tires (mismatched duals greater than 12.8 mm, exposed cord or a bald tread), the fine is $95 for a violator with a registered gross vehicle weight of less than 11,000 kg. A violator with a gross vehicle weight of more than 11,000 kg, however, pays $125 for the same offence.

Brake-related offences follow the same basic theme. For a failure to have the service brake adjusted so that it applies braking equally on opposite ends of the axle, the fine is $125 for vehicles under 11,000 kg. For vehicles over 11,000 kg, the fine is determined by multiplying the number of problem brakes by $100. Vehicles that exceed 11,000 kg gross vehicle weight add $150 to the total.

The reaction to the new fine schedule among the trucking community is not entirely negative. To be fair, said Jim Friesen, general manager of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association, the fines have not increased in about eight years, and they are still lower that those in British Columbia and Manitoba (Alberta’s are still slightly lower).

“If this is just a way for the government to increase revenues, then we would not be in favor,” Friesen said. “But if it is an honest attempt to reduce accidents and get bad vehicles off the road, then how could you disagree with it? And the increase for each infraction is directly proportional to the frequency of that violation, so we have no reason to believe that’s not the intent.”

The move also has supporters in the law enforcement community.

“The Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police (SACP) supports the new fine schedule,” Regina Police Chief Cal Johnston said. “Enforcement of traffic laws with fines that provide meaningful deterrence is an essential component of an overall traffic safety strategy.” n

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