When it comes to drinking and driving, the punishment doesn’t always fit the crime. At least that seems to be the case in Alberta right now, because a man convicted of impaired driving causing death has walked out of jail for good after only serving a short period of time.
What began as a night out with friends ended with an impaired driving crash causing the death of a 17-year old boy. Ryan Gibson was driving his pickup truck the wrong way down Highway 22 near Cochrane, Alberta when he crashed straight into the vehicle of Brandon Thomas. Thomas died from his injuries, and when Gibson’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was measured via a breathalyzer, he was found to be driving with double the legal limit in his system.
He pleaded guilty to driving over .08 causing death and driving over .08 causing bodily harm. For his crime he received almost 3 years in prison, but much to the shock of the family of Brandon Thomas, he walked free on full parole recently.
Gibson appealed when he initially received his sentence, but the Alberta Court of Appeals held up the jail penalty and suggested if he pursued another appeal he could receive an even stiffer sentence. Clearly they believed the punishment fit the crime, especially since most first offenders only receive a drivers license suspension, vehicle seizure, and must take part in the ignition interlock program for one year upon criminal conviction.
That’s why it’s surprising that Gibson has walked out of prison after only serving a short period of time. He was day paroled at the 6-month mark and now he’s received full parole. Although the intent to punish was there, the lesser sentence doesn’t seem to fit the severity of the crime.
Ultimately, penalty decisions are up to the judge, and although Gibson did serve a time in jail, the family of Brandon Thomas has a lifetime to live with the fact that their son is not coming home. If nothing else makes you stop and think about drinking and driving, that should.