Penalties increasing for impaired driving?

Is it possible impaired driving is getting the attention it deserves in criminal court?

Is it possible impaired driving is getting the attention it deserves in criminal court? Some say yes after one of the largest jail terms ever handed out in Canada last week.

Impaired driver Marco Muzzo was sentenced to 10 years in an Ontario court for impaired driving that killed four people, a granddad and three kids. Last September Muzzo, heir to one of the richest construction families in Ontario, was drunk and speeding in an SUV when he struck a van in which nine-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake, his five-year-old brother Harrison, two-year-old sister Milly and the kids’ 65-year-old grandfather, Gary Neville, were riding. Everyone in the van died.

It was revealed later that Muzzo had just returned from his bachelor’s party in Florida, drinking on a private plane that brought him back to Ontario just in time to kill four people shortly after he landed.

Are we starting to see serious penalties for impaired driving causing death and serious injury? For years such charges have been treated as accidents, and the perpetrators as well-meaning clowns who didn’t intend any harm. In fact, some of the coverage surrounding the sentence still included the “long sentences don’t stop drunk driving” seems pointless because, frankly, Muzzo will never serve 10 years. He will serve a few years then be released to resume his life. One Yahoo News story titled “Reaction damning,” started out describing the positive response to the 10-year sentence but soon devolved into the usual Canadian smug bleeding-heart drivel. Quoting Toronto defense lawyer Edward Prutschi, the public may “feel better if we stick people in jail but that won’t make you safer…No one who drinks and gets behind a wheel ever thinks they are going to plough into a van and kill four people.”

You could also say someone with a handgun can spray bullets in a crowded theatre not intending to hurt anyone, and if someone’s shot in the head…well, it’s not the poor shooter’s fault. He never intended for that to happen. You victims should keep your heads out of the way of the bullets.

This sleazy smugness about dodging consequences needs to stop. It just needs to stop, and the criminal law must be altered so that killers are held responsible for their actions.

A few years ago in Red Deer a young man named Chad Olsen was drunk driving Feb. 7, 2010, ran a red light and slammed into a small car driven by local parents Brad and Krista Howe. Both died, leaving their five children without parents. Sentences aside, the killer should also be held responsible for the care of these children. He should be legally and financially responsible for supporting these orphans until they’re 18 years of age. Organized crime is often combated the same way; the “proceeds of crime,” including mansions, expensive cars, bank accounts and other valuable property, are seized by the government to make up for the heinous actions of the criminals who value material possessions over the safety of society.

Drunk drivers know what they are doing is wrong, regardless of what criminal lawyers in Toronto claim. They must be held responsible in every conceivable way for the horrifying tragedies they cause.

 

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