When you kill someone because you caused a drunk driving crash, there’s no question you’ll be going to jail. The only thing that’s unconfirmed, until you appear in front of a judge at least, is for how long. But one Edmonton man says that jail sentences for drunk drivers should be even tougher than they are right now.
Ian Harris lost his mother to a drunk driving crash in 2016. It happened after 21-year-old Eric Lestar was speeding through a yellow light in the late afternoon. He struck the back of Joann Christou’s car at high speed, and it rolled into the ditch along with his own car. Christou’s car burst into flame, and although police and other people tried to save her, she died due to her injuries.
When police took Lestar’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the scene, they found him to be double the legal limit. When he finally had his day in court for the drunk driving crash, the judge sentenced him to four years and three months in prison. In addition to that jail time, he’ll also lose his license for five years after he’s released and be required to drive with an ignition interlock device.
Harris feels closure after the sentencing, but he doesn’t think four years is a stiff enough sentence for a drunk driving crash causing death. That’s because he believes that everyone should already know you shouldn’t drive a car while drunk, and there’s no excuse anymore if you do.
He’s right: other jail sentences for drunk driving causing death have been much harsher than Lestar’s sentence. Marco Muzzo from Ontario received 10 years for killing the Neville-Lake children and their grandfather. Catherine McKay received a 10-year sentence for killing the Van de Vorst family. When you compare sentences, four years really isn’t a lot for killing Joann Christou in the way Lestar did.
Although car crashes are sometimes called ‘accidents,’ there’s nothing accidental about a crash if you’ve been drinking. It’s a choice you’ve made to get behind the wheel, and anyone who makes that choice and ends up killing someone should be penalized with harsh jail time. With Canadian impaired driving laws changing, it’s time the minimum sentence for this crime changes too.