In Canada, anyone who drives drunk and is charged with impaired driving has to deal with penalties as laid out by the Criminal Code of Canada. The Criminal Code specifies 7 different impaired driving offenses including having care or control of a vehicle while you’re impaired, impaired driving causing bodily harm or death, failure to submit to a breathalyzer, and driving on a suspended license. Although these penalties are designed to crack down on impaired driving in Canada, one Member of Parliament from British Columbia doesn’t think it’s enough.
Mark Warawa has tabled a private bill in Parliament he called Kassandra’s Law. If passed, Kassandra’s Law will change the Criminal Code of Canada to require any driver who was impaired, caused the death of another person, and found liable for the death to be guilty of the charge of vehicular homicide and have the potential to be sentenced to life in prison.
The bill was named in honour of a young woman, Kassandra Kaulius, who was hit and killed in 2011 by a drunk driver in Surrey, British Columbia. After sentencing, the person who killed her, Natasha Warren, received 37 months in prison and a driver’s license suspension for 8 years. She only served 2/3 of her sentence and has since been released from prison.
Many provinces already have strict impaired driving laws, including immediate driver’s license seizures, impounding of vehicles, fines, ignition interlock installations, and the possibility of limited jail time if you injure or kill someone. If they had a strict law like the one Warawa is proposing on the books in 2011, the person who killed Kaulius wouldn’t be walking free today.
Because Criminal Code of Canada penalties are implemented at the federal level and extend across all provinces, a law like this would give Canadian prosecutors and judges the power to hand down severe sentences to those who have killed someone due to impaired driving. Whether Kassandra’s Law will pass is anyone’s guess, but it could do a world of good in the fight against drunk driving.