Sunday February 28, 2016

Are we making progress in the battle against impaired driving?

(Shutterstock)

Listen to Full Episode 1:54:20

This week's testimony of a mother who lost all three of her children to a drunk driving accident, broke hearts across the country. Are we making progress in the battle against driving under the influence? With guest host Susan McReynolds.

Susan McReynolds

Cross Country Checkup guest host Susan McReynolds shows off her Canada mittens. (CBC)

"What hope is there when your entire world is gone. every single piece of our lives have been altered because of somebody else," said Jennifer Neville-Lake in her victim impact statement. She is the mother of three young children children who were killed, along with their grandfather, when a drunk driver crashed into their mini van last September in Vaughan, Ont. 

She was speaking outside of the court house during the sentencing hearing of that driver—29-year-old Marco Muzzo. He has pleaded guilty to charges of impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm. 

The court heard how Muzzo's blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit at the time of the crash.

The Crown is asking for a sentence that will reflect the severity of the crime: 10 to 12 years in prison and a driving ban of eight to 12 years.

Defence lawyer Brian Greenspan asked the judge for eight years in prison, citing that Muzzo is unlikely to re-offend. 
The judge will render her sentence at the end of March. 

In this program we heard Canadians' reflections on the issues raised by this tragic case.

Although, statistically the number of alcohol related deaths is declining in Canada  the numbers are still staggering.
In 2010, impairment-related crashes resulted in over 1,000 fatalities and over 63,000 injuries.

Many are quick to point out that it is not only drinking and driving that is the problem; but, driving under the influence of drugs also contributes to many of the fatalities.

Some call for stiffer penalties, others say penalties are stiff enough and we have to figure out other ways to stop people from making that potentially fatal decision to get behind the wheel of a car while impaired.

Our question: "Are we making progress in the battle against drunk driving?"

GUESTS

Andy Pattenden
Constable for the York Regional Police

Markita Kaulis
Founder of Families for Justice, a group advocating against drunk driving

Michael Lacy
Lawyer and partner at the law firm Brauti Thorning Zibarras LLP
Twitter: @crimlacy

Andrew Murie
Chief Executive Officer of MADD Canada (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)