One good thing came out of Marco Muzzo’s trial for drunk driving in Canada. After he killed four people, including three young children, people really started talking about drunk driving. From mothers’ groups on Twitter to Facebook pages, people weighed in on Muzzo’s sentence of ten years with the hashtag #muzzo. The consensus about his sentencing wasn’t positive.
How can one man receive ten years in jail for the deaths of four people? And what’s worse, he will probably only serve part of that, given day parole and full parole for Canadian offenders. It makes you wonder what other sentences others have received for drunk driving in Canada, and what the offender did to receive them.
A good example of a harsh drunk driving sentence happened in Alberta in 2008. A repeat drunk driving offender pleaded guilty to ten charges after he drove a stolen truck near Slave Lake, Alberta and plowed head on into a vehicle driven by woman with her three daughters. The man was sentenced to twenty years and six months in jail for killing the family, and according to news reports, he’s since committed suicide in the Edmonton jail.
The sentence the judge handed down was a long one, especially in Alberta where a first impaired driving offense won’t land the person in jail. It’s only when there is a death or injury due to drunk driving that prison is considered part of the penalty process.
Alberta’s not the only province that’s had a harsh penalty handed down. Long before Muzzo drove drunk, another Ontario drunk driver committed a horrendous crime. He had been driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than three times the legal limit, and when his car went over a bridge and into a water-filled ditch, he got out and left a passenger inside.
Instead of saving the man, he told the other passengers to tell the police that the trapped man had been driving, and he also tried to hide the alcohol and drugs that were in the car. He was also driving without a valid driver’s license, and the 12-year sentence he received was two years longer than the Crown recommended. He’s still behind bars today.
Ontario is another province that doesn’t require jail time for a first time offender, but like Alberta, when there is a death or injury due to impaired driving the judge has the power to hand out stiffer penalties.
Muzzo’s sentence has been a wake up call for Canadians. It’s made people more aware of the dangers of drunk driving in Canada, and it’s also shown people that, no matter where you live in the country, long prison sentences can be part of the package if you drink and drive. It’s tragic that it took the death of four people to do that.