Open letter to Yukon MP Larry Bagnell:
It has been some time since I last wrote you. I note the season of Christmas will soon be upon us, and the old problem of the drunk driver again on Canadian roads.
However, I write this not only for that season but all seasons.
I am a great advocate of MADD and appreciate the good works they do.
It does seem that the Canadian court system does not appreciate the horrendous carnage on our highways and the terrible costs in, not only dollars, but smashed lives and saddened families.
Bagnell, you are a family man now with a little one and a wife to care for. Imagine your family being wiped out by a drunk driver in the wink of an eye. Not a good thing to imagine. But it could happen.
I acknowledge that the courts finally committed a man to an appropriate sentence in the last couple of weeks (life), but, and it is a big but, it was his 19th conviction and he killed a wheelchair-bound person. So the sentence was a long time coming and it cost a life. Perhaps a longer sentence in the past and some meaningful sanctions would have prevented such a tragedy and saved that life.
I have listed down below a few suggestions in regards to maybe how the members of Parliament should consider some very harsh penalties for drunk drivers. I am sure you find they are harsh and unforgiving, but it is time we saved the lives of our fellow Canadians and made sure these people stop driving impaired.
For first offence: A $5,000 fine that must be paid (even if it is over a long time) and a six-month jail sentence.
Along with this, a one-year licence suspension after you are released. After you have done a driving course you get your pink licence plates for two years. The public needs warning you have been convicted of drunk/impaired driving.
For the second offence: A $10,000 fine that must be paid. And a one-year jail sentence. The state will sell your vehicle at this point. The driver can pay the balance to his financing company once he is released. Along with this, a two-year driving suspension, the driving course and the pink licence plates for three years.
One of the reasons I put in the clause that the fine must be paid is that these driving criminals have many times served a short jail term in lieu of the fine. They have taken vacation time or had the sentence set over till after work season to serve instead of paying up. I feel this is a gross injustice. They laugh at the short terms and continue on in their dangerous driving practices.
After these first couple of sanctions I believe most people will reconsider driving home from the bar, or wherever, when they are impaired.
If not, maybe a five-year sentence for the next few is appropriate. As we saw with the fellow who got the life sentence, some just do not ever seem to learn. Unfortunately there will always be the few that are incorrigible.
Now let us deal with the “poor drunk” or the “I have a problem” and “it was a mistake” scenarios.
Most of these folks know they have a problem. Some have sought help and failed. Still, they must be held responsible for the carnage they create. Also, yes, it will affect families in a negative way.
But consider the fact anyone who drinks and drives chooses to place his/her family in the unfortunate position it may find itself. Yes, they may lose their jobs, etc. It’s still his/her fault. We have become a society that excuses all sorts of excesses and makes it hard for the system to make reparations to victims. There are many victims out there who get very little assistance and tend to be shoved aside in the system.
The old “it was at the lower end of the scale” commentary by judges is particularily frustrating to victims. Whose scale are we looking at? It may not be that a drunk kills someone, but totals someone’s car or damages a house. That may be very devastating to someone, even though they sustained no physical injuries.
Now, for a few of those that still insist on taking the chance to drive impaired, should the Canadian Parliament have the fortitude to pass laws such as this, it will be a blow to them and their families. But consider the fact, maybe, just maybe, lives will be saved and the cost to society for endless prosecutions and extraneous costs will be reduced dramatically, at least for this particular offence.
When one sits down and clearly thinks about drunk driving, in the clear light of day, there really is no excuse for it. When a person decides to drive to the bar or elsewhere and knows he/she will be drinking they are usually sober. So it is a deliberate act and a deliberate risk they will drink and drive home.
Last, I do not have a thing against anyone going out for the evening to a bar or other function and having drinks. That is your right and going to have a good time is not a crime. It is a CRIME to endanger others and perhaps cause death or damages to other people on the roads.
I implore you, Bagnell, to give this letter to the other parliamentarians on Parliament Hill. To all parties, and perhaps see where their commentary will lead.
This is not a matter for partisanship but a matter literally of life and death for Canadians.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this urgent and critical matter to all Canadians.