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In today’s society, driving while under the influence of alcohol has become a very deadly crime. The deaths would be preventable if we had more severe laws against this issue. 1 person every 51 minutes dies as a result of an impaired driver, and the only people that will say the DUI laws are too strict or strict enough the way they are now, are the ones performing the drinking and driving. Here is a question for those people, what if your loved one was killed by a drunk driver who ran a stop sign? Would the laws still be too strict?
Families lives are shattered by the sudden death of a loved one, families never return to their normal ways of life. While the offenders, after a few days in prison, reclaims their normal life. As a result of our fragile criminal justice system, everyday road users share the road with repeat offenders who are highly resistant to change their behavior despite previous sanctions, treatments or education. In my opinion, those who cause the death of another person while driving intoxicated should receive a mandatory prison sentence of five to ten years depending on the circumstances, without the possibility of parole. The penalties today for driving under the influence of alcohol are dreadfully too lenient. It is not just there life that is on the line when they step behind the wheel.
The new Ontario impaired driving penalties in the Criminal Code states that for a first offence, driving while impaired with a BAC above .08%, are fine that increased to $1000.00 from $600.00, for a second offence same conditions above, now receive 30 days in jail instead of 14 days and for a third offence same conditions above, now receive 120 days in jail instead of 90 days. Someone who kills another while driving under the influence is convicted of a more general crime, like involuntary manslaughter, which results in 10 to 16 months. This being said let’s say a drunk driver steps into his vehicle and thankfully was caught before an accident accumulated, the individual will pay $1000.00.
Now say the same person was caught a second time, and the consequence they receive is 30 days in jail. Then that same person again was caught a third time and they receive 120 days in jail. There is a possibility though that the person was not caught the first time, they had not seen the red light and they killed your 18-year-old son. That impaired driver most likely did not learn their lesson the first time because the laws are not serious enough and the second time they could kill your spouse, and the third time they could kill you. The laws are too lenient! The possibility of this outcome is very probable. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act has created punishments that are in addition to the Criminal Code fines spoken of above. These include license suspensions between one year for a first offense to a lifetime for a third offense. These drivers must also complete a remedial measures assessment and education or treatment program for approximately 10 months.
Aswell they must install an Ignition Interlock Device on their vehicles for between 1 year for a first offense to life for a third offense. The Ignition Interlock Device is a leased breath alcohol monitoring machine wired into your vehicle’s ignition. I believe that for a first offence of driving with a BAC above .08% without injury to an individual you should serve a two year license suspension and a $5,000 fine, for a second offence same conditions, you should serve a five year license suspension and a $5,000 fine and for a third offence same conditions, you should serve a twenty-five year license suspension and one year in jail. If you cause the death of another individual you should serve five to ten years in prison. 47% of people killed in drunk driving crashes are innocent victims according to provincial police reports. This statistic was proven to be true for over the past 15 years and was published in November of 2017. Statistics prove that 987 people have died due to DUI’s since 2003 on OPP-patrolled roads, and out of that 987, thirty-seven of them died in the year of 2017.
Police also reported around 72,000 impaired driving incidents occur every year in Canada. It is not hard to overlook a law and foresee it as too strict or not strict enough. For example, many people think that marijuana laws are irrelevant or that accidental manslaughter law is too strict. But when you have over 50% of innocent people’s lives ending because a person who thinks to themselves they’re okay to drive because there just buzzed, that is where the line must start to be drawn. The line between facts and opinions. Needless to say, someone receiving one year in prison for coincidentally killing someone while under the influence of alcohol is unsound.
Everyone is aware of the law, that you can not drink and drive if one person chooses to get behind the wheel and ends up killing someone as a result of their inability to function a motorized vehicle, the penalty should be more severe then just one year. This is poem was written by an unknown source and has several interpretations towards people who drink and drive that result in someone else paying the price they did not deserve. It goes as follows, “I went to a party, And remembered what you said. You told me not to drink, Mom So I had a sprite instead. I felt proud of myself, The way you said I would, That I didn’t drink and drive, Though some friends said I should. I made a healthy choice, And your advice to me was right, The party finally ended, And the kids drove out of sight. I got into my car, Sure to get home in one piece, I never knew what was coming, Mom, Something I expected least.
Now I’m lying on the pavement, And I hear the policeman say, The kid that caused this wreck was drunk, Mom, his voice seems far away. My own blood is all around me, As I try hard not to cry. I can hear the paramedic say, This girl is going to die. I’m sure the guy had no idea, While he was flying high, Because he chose to drink and drive, Now I would have to die. So why do people do it, Mom, Knowing that it ruins lives? And now the pain is cutting me, Like a hundred stabbing knives. Tell sister not to be afraid, Tell daddy to be brave, And when I go to heaven, Put Daddy’s Girl on my grave. Someone should have taught him, That it’s wrong to drink and drive. Maybe if his parents had, I’d still be alive. My breath is getting shorter, Mom I’m getting really scared. These are my final moments, And I’m so unprepared. I wish that you could hold me, Mom, As I lie here and die. I wish that I could say, “I love you, Mom!” So I love you and good-bye.” This poem is an exact representation of what provincial police officers are talking about when they say innocent lives are taken away in drinking and driving collisions. It is not always the fool who chose to drink and drive who serves the deathly consequence. It is clouded over that these impaired drivers get to live and walk away from a scene of an accident barely punished for the lifelong harm they cause. Here is another example, a story of a gut-wrenching man who did not pay his price and four others had to. Jennifer Neville-Lake a woman out of Newmarket, Ontario lost her 3 children and father in 2016 to a head-on collision caused by a drunk driver. She told the gentleman responsible for the impaired driving, Marco Muzzo, from the witness stand, as she cried, “I don’t have anyone left to call me mom …. You killed all my babies,” I miss my kids, I miss my dad, I want my old life back.”
Several individuals in the courtroom that day, including police officers, wiped their eyes as Jennifer recalled learning the devastating news and rushing to the hospital just in time to see two of her children taken off life support. Jennifer’s home that once echoed with laughter has been left frighteningly quiet. She looked Muzzo in the eyes to say “The roaring silence that has been left behind as a result of your actions is so deafening.” Her husband Edward Neville-Lake, said in a statement that he has suffered from suicidal thoughts and intense anxiety since the crash, and the loss has affected their marriage. The offender Marco Muzzo had initially faced a dozen counts of impaired driving and six other charges of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. Yet he still had his license and his ability to drive after all of these counts.
The courtroom was informed that he was so drunk at the time of the September 27, 2016 crash that he urinated on himself and needed help standing. The consequences most definitely are not harsh enough if this man was able to operate a vehicle after multiple counts of impaired driving prior to this deadly crash. A change must be made! There are millions of impeccable cases just like Jennifer’s that prove that this should no longer be a debate, but a change. Not many people take the time to think about the severity of drinking under the influence of alcohol, they do not realize that it kills hundreds of people. The punishment needs to change, for a first offence of driving with a BAC above .08% without injury to an individual you should serve a two year license suspension and a $5,000 fine, for a second offence same conditions, you should serve a five year license suspension and a $5,000 fine and for a third offence same conditions you should serve a twenty-five year license suspension and one year in jail.
On the other side of that, if you cause the death of an individual while impaired, you should serve a minimum of five to ten years in prison. The laws today do not punish to the extent they should. People get caught, get released and repeat. Its proven to have happened just like in Jennifer’s case and there are many others. If the laws were stricter her 3 babies would still be with her. I guarantee mothers and fathers today would gladly pay the punishment fee of $1000.00 or sit in jail for 30 days to be able to see their child just one more time. But they can’t! Yet the impaired driver can, so how does this seem fair? Drinking under the influence of alcohol is not only your own stupid mistake it is another person’s loss, think twice before you get into the vehicle with an impaired driver or you yourself step into a vehicle after a night out with the boys. It might just save your life.
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