A provincial committee is recommending tougher penalties for drinking drivers and increased powers for police to impose immediate suspensions and impound vehicles.

In all, there are 26 recommendations in a traffic safety committee report which was released Friday morning.

The penalties would be on top of fines and suspensions imposed by the courts and take effect immediately without benefit of a trial or court hearing.

The proposals include a zero tolerance for drivers 19 and under.

Any alcohol or drugs found within their system would result in an immediate 60-day license suspension and a three-day vehicle impoundment.

There are other penalties for experienced drivers who have had a couple of drinks but are below the legal limit of .08.

First time offenders would face a 72-hour license suspension and mandatory enrollment in a driving without impairment course.

A second offence with a blood alcohol level of between .05 and .07 would result in a seven-day vehicle impoundment, 21-day license suspension and mandatory addiction screening.

The two NDP members on the committee, Doyle Vermette and Danielle Chartier, would like to see vehicle impoundment for a first offense.

For those charged with impaired driving, they would lose their license until their court case is settled and have their vehicle impounded for 30 days.

The suspensions and impoundments would increase depending on the blood alcohol level of the accused.

The report also calls for a greater public awareness campaign about the dangers of drinking and driving as well as the hiring of an additional 120 police officers province wide to enforce drinking and driving laws.

Saskatchewan has the highest rate of impaired driving in Canada and the problem is worst amongst young drivers.

Committee chair Darrell Hickie says some of the recommendations of the report could be implemented as early as this fall while others require legislative changes and would take longer.

Hickie, a former police officer, says he has never been able to understand why people would take a chance on driving after consuming any alcohol.

The government will study the report’s recommendations over the next couple of months before deciding on which recommendations will be implemented.