There’s no commonality that all impaired drivers share -- just the dangerous decision to drive while impaired.
© Submitted photo
The Saskatchewan Impaired Driver Treatment Centre, located on North Industrial Drive north of the river, is seen.
“We have people from every background come to us,” Saskatchewan Impaired Driver Treatment Centre director Michele Ketzmerick said. “Every age group, education level.”
The Saskatchewan Impaired Driver Treatment Centre, located on North Industrial Drive in Prince Albert, is a Ministry of Health correctional centre where those with at least two impaired driving convictions spend their last three weeks of incarceration.
The underlying goal, Ketzmerick said, is to help prevent them from repeating the decision to drive while impaired.
Although there’s no overall commonality to those who take part in the centre’s programming, some statistics help paint a picture of their most frequent guests.
Most are men, at 80 per cent, and are between the ages of 25 and 44 -- an age range that represents 60 per cent of those who take part in the centre’s programming.
Those 45 years of age or older represent 25 per cent of the centre’s population, while those under the age of 25 make up only 15 per cent.
Although the percentage of those under the age of 25 might appear smaller than what some people might have anticipated, Ketzmerick notes that they only deal with people who have two or more impaired driving convictions.
“They might get their first one under 25, and their second one (when they’re older),” she said.
Although they choose to make at least one wrong decision to drive while impaired, those convicted for impaired driving are not necessarily uneducated.
“The majority – over 70 per cent have completed high school, about 20 per cent post secondary, (and) about nine per cent have just completed elementary,” Ketzmerick listed.
You hear all kinds of reasoning that people give … and they don’t think it’s going to happen to them. Saskatchewan Impaired Driver Treatment Centre director Michele Ketzmerick
Recognizing that there have been an unusually high number of deaths on Prince Albert roads in recent months -- incidents where impaired driving charges have been laid -- Ketzmerick said that the centre’s programming addresses this facet of the inherently dangerous practice of impaired driving.
“We have had people in here who have killed someone by driving impaired, so they have counsellors assigned to them for the full three weeks they’re here,” she said.
Often, they’ll be linked with mental health professionals to help deal with “deeper issues” that might follow them after leaving the centre, stemming from the knowledge that they’ve killed someone,” Ketzmerick said.
“There’s a lot of time in the afternoons for one-on-ones. Counsellors are available for that, and in the morning it’s a group environment.”
The centre took its first group of impaired drivers through programming in 1980, averaging between 400 and 500 people per year since that time -- 428 recorded in the latest recently ended calendar year.
In that time, those running the centre have heard a wide range of excused for impaired driving -- an act Ketzmerick notes should never take place.
They claim to not realize they’re over the legal drinking limit, they don’t think they’ll get caught, they’re driving just a short distance, they don’t want their vehicle towed, she said, beginning a long list of go-to excuses.
“You hear all kinds of reasoning that people give … and they don’t think it’s going to happen to them.”