The families of drunk driving victims often have the loudest voices in the fight against Canadian drunk driving. They’ve lived through the tragedy of losing someone to such a senseless crime, and they know what other families will have to go through if they lose someone to drunk driving too.
That’s why a Beaumont, Alberta resident wants Canadians to sign a new petition. After losing her son to a drunk driving crash in 2011, Sheri Arsenault wants to make sure that people charged with Canadian drunk driving face tougher penalties.
Most people think those new penalties will come in the form of Bill C-46 – a new bill proposed by the government that will strengthen penalties for all impaired driving offenses including drugged and drunk driving. What C-46 won’t do, according to this petition, is properly penalize impaired drivers who cause death.
Arsenault would like to see an amendment to Bill C-46 – a five-year mandatory prison sentence for any impaired driver causing death. Right now, the bare bones sentence for these drivers is a $1,000 fine, and many of them can walk away and get on with their lives with very little jail time.
Not only do they not spend very much time in jail, but drunk drivers can sometimes walk away long before they’ve served the time they are given. Take Marco Muzzo for example: he was sentenced to ten years for a crash killing three small children and their grandfather, and after just two years he’s eligible for Unescorted Temporary Absences and has been moved to a minimum-security prison.
In Saskatchewan Catherine McKay, the drunk driver who killed four members of the Van de Vorst family, was also sentenced to ten years in prison. She only served a month before she was moved to a Healing Lodge.
If there was a mandatory prison sentence for offenders who kill because of drunk driving, these convicted drunk drivers wouldn’t be eligible for healing lodges or minimum security—they’d still be doing time behind bars.
The debate over Bill C-46 continues, but if this petition is any indication, it might be time to take a hard look at the penalties for impaired driving causing death.