A Richmond Hill woman who celebrated drunk driving in social media posts before killing a cyclist with her car in 2015 has been sentenced to 18 months in jail after pleading guilty to new charges of impaired driving — her third such conviction in five years.

Darya Selinevich, 27, was arrested in June when she was pulled over after swerving erratically on Highway 400 south of Barrie with twice the legal alcohol limit in her blood. Police found 12 empty beer containers and two passengers in the car.

Appearing remotely in a Newmarket court due to the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Selinevich pleaded guilty to the criminal charges of impaired driving and driving while disqualified. She had initially also been charged with additional driving offences and cocaine possession, but those counts were dropped.

Three years ago, Selinevich received jail time and a 10-year driving ban for killing Zhi Yong Kang as he rode his bike on Finch Avenue West on June 11, 2015. Selinevich had been drinking heavily before she slammed a BMW into Kang, a 44-year-old father of one, while going almost twice the speed limit. She fled the scene and led police on a chase through a residential neighbourhood.

At the time of that arrest, her social media accounts glorified drinking and driving with photos of a wine bottle in a car, a speedometer at 202.5 km/h and a RIDE poster with her added joke that options to get home after drinking included “option 5, my car.”

One month before killing Kang, Selinevich received a one-year driving ban for speeding with double the legal limit of alcohol in her system.

Selinevich’s seven-year sentence for Kang’s death was reduced to 4 1/2 years for time served. But in January 2018, she was granted day parole after telling parole board members she would never drink alcohol again and hoped to prevent future tragedies by sharing her story through Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She was later granted full parole with conditions, including no alcohol or driving.

Those conditions were still in place when she committed her most recent offence. According to an agreed statement of facts, another driver called the police after 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 21, when Selinevich almost hit his car on Highway 400. The witness reported she was “swerving from side to side” in heavy cottage country traffic, and almost struck the median “on multiple locations,” according to the statement.

When OPP officers caught up with Selinevich she initially denied she had been drinking, despite the dozen empty beer cans in the car, an odour of alcohol emanating from the vehicle, and two passengers who appeared to be intoxicated. A breathalyzer test determined her blood alcohol level was more than 160 milligrams per 100 millilitres.

On Thursday, Crown attorney Robert De Chellis asked Justice Amit Anil Ghosh to impose a jail sentence of two years less a day, arguing Selinevich poses “a real danger.”

“She’s already killed somebody when driving drunk, and was actually on that sentence when she committed this offence,” he said. “She just does not seem to get it.”

Selinevich’s lawyer, Jeffrey Stone, countered that she had taken responsibility for her crime by pleading guilty, and asked the judge to sentence her to no more than 15 months.

“She wants to accept her responsibility and move on to the difficult task of acknowledging that she is an alcoholic and acknowledging that she has to deal with that,” Stone said, adding that since being re-arrested she has lost her job at a North York law firm.

Ghosh said that while he could “empathize” with Selinevich’s struggles with alcohol, “there is no question she must be removed from society for a significant period of time.”

“The risk to other vehicles and their occupants was not an abstract risk, it was a real one that could have resulted in catastrophic consequences,” he said of her most recent offence.

Selinevich said little during the proceeding. Asked by the judge whether she had anything to say before he sentenced her, she responded “Not right now.”

Selinevich’s parole was revoked when she was arrested two months ago and she has been detained at the Central East Correctional Centre in Kawartha Lakes. She will serve her new jail time after completing her sentence for the Kang case.

In addition to jail time, the judge also ordered Selinevich to undergo counselling for alcohol addiction, serve three years probation, and be prohibited from driving for 10 years. Ghosh acknowledged it was likely the ministry of transportation would revoke her licence for life as a result of her third impaired driving conviction.

Andrew Murie, chief executive officer of MADD Canada, said the sentence was just about “adequate,” but predicted that “families who have been impacted by impaired driving will think this is outrageous” and “too low.”

He described Selinevich’s promise to the parole board that she would work with MADD as a clear attempt to use his organization to secure leniency. He said her behaviour, particularly her celebration of impaired driving on social media, was “deplorable,” and “there’s not a chance in a million years we would work with anyone like this.”

Darya Selinevich, repeat offender:

  • May 2015: Selinevich receives a one-year driving ban for speeding while being intoxicated with twice the legal blood alcohol limit.
  • June 2015: She kills cyclist Zhi Yong Kang with a BMW while driving drunk.
  • January 2017: She receives seven years in jail for Kang’s death, which is reduced to 4 1/2 years for time served.
  • January 2018: After telling a parole board she’ll never drink again, she is given day parole and later granted full parole on condition she won’t drink or drive.
  • June 2020: She is arrested for drunk driving after swerving on Highway 400 with a dozen empty alcohol containers and two passengers in the car.
  • August 2020: She is sentenced to 18 months in jail for her third drunk driving conviction in five years.

Source: The Star


Last updated on: 2020-11-17 | Link to this post