Feb 24, 2016 - EDMONTON-AREA MOM WHO LOST SON TO DRUNK DRIVER HOPES NEW IMPAIRED LEGISLATION PREVENTS MORE DEATHS


Sentences for drinking and driving could get a lot longer if a bill, inspired in part by the deaths of three Edmonton-area teens, gets traction in the House of Commons.

But proponents of drunk-driving legislation are divided on what it should include.

“The things that make me very happy are they are going to ask for a mandatory minimum of five years,” said Sheri Arsenault. “That reflects the severity of the crime … a little bit better than the sentences they’ve been handing out lately.”

Robert and Sheri Arsenault outside the Wetaskiwin courthouse after Johnathan Pratt was sentenced to eight years for killing their son Bradley, and two others, in a car crash

Arsenault became involved with the group Families for Justice after her son Bradley, 18, was killed just outside Beaumont, along with his two friends, Thaddeus Lake, 22, and Kole Novak, 18, in November 2011.

Their car was struck by a Dodge Ram pickup driven by Jonathan Pratt, 28, who police found to be more than twice the legal alcohol limit and travelling at almost 200 km/h.

Pratt began his prison sentence Aug. 28, 2014. He will l be eligible for day parole in October 2016 and full parole in April 2017.

“That sure doesn’t seem like eight years to me,” Arsenault said.

Bill C-73, the Dangerous and Impaired Driving Act, tabled last June by the Conservative government, included stricter sentencing and closure to loopholes for drunk drivers, but never got to the debate stage before the federal election was called. The one tabled Tuesday is similar, but has a provision for random breath testing of drivers.

Arsenault fears pushback by civil liberty groups to the random testing will confuse the aim of the law.

“I think it muddies it up a bit, I think they’re two separate issues,” she said.

But Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada want the opposite. They have told Families for Justice that stricter sentences, including impaired driving causing death sentences of between five and 25 years, and an allowance for judges to apply consecutive sentences, don’t work.

Instead, they point to research in other countries that suggest random roadside testing decreases drunk driving deaths.

Arsenault feels the solution is more complex that may need more than one new law.

“Until we change the way our society, culture, thinks of alcohol, it’s hard to change anything,” she said. “Stiffer penalties may give families a little bit more justice in their hearts and it may stop another segment from driving. But I do believe it’s just another piece in a huge puzzle.”

Source: Edmonton Journal


 

Last updated on: 2016-02-27 | Link to this post