If you think you are okay to drive after drinking, think again.

“People think they’re invincible. They never think it’s going to happen to them, until it happens to them and then it’s horrific,” said Sarah Poole, a 10-year emergency room nurse at the Regina General Hospital.

She has seen the result of what happens when people decide to drive while impaired.

“I’ve seen patients with limbs missing, limbs being brought in on ice to be reattached, people being rushed to the OR, and people needing massive blood transfusions,” said Poole.

“People don’t realize that one bad choice – to drive drunk or high – can damage so much. It really is that simple.”

May’s traffic safety spotlight is shining on impaired driving. Police across the province will be on the lookout for impaired drivers, and they are asking the public’s help. If you’re driving and see a driver you suspect is impaired, pull over and call 911.

The consequences of impaired driving are certainly sobering: 40 people were killed and 606 were injured in alcohol and drug-related collisions in Saskatchewan in 2013. Tougher penalties effective June 27, 2014 mean impaired drivers face longer licence suspensions, immediate roadside vehicle seizures, and user-pay mandatory ignition interlock in some cases. Drug impaired drivers face the same consequences as those impaired by alcohol.

A lot of the close calls Poole has witnessed have involved impaired driving crashes where the only person injured was the impaired driver themselves.

“I want to tell them ‘You could have killed someone. You are a selfish person right now. You need to hold that in your heart, for the rest of your life, that you had a guardian angel protecting other people from your bad choice today,” said Poole.

Next time, they might not be so lucky. “If something happens, you’ll be living with that regret forever – it’s something that will never go away,“ said Poole.

Police and SGI remind everyone to always plan a safe ride home.

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