Tough new penalties could soon be in the works for those who choose to drink and drive.
Ottawa is looking into mandatory minimum sentencing for serious offences like impaired driving causing death.
Canada’s Justice Minister Peter MacKay made the revelation Wednesday from Whitehorse, while responding to questions about the criminal code and a recent court decision in Ontario about these minimum sentencing.
MacKay tells reporters the Conservative government has heard the criticism and concerns from victims.
“We’re listening, we certainly hear the position of MADD Canada and victims groups who want to send a very strong message,” he says.
According to the Justice Minister, he’s been consulting with MADD for some time now.
“If we can prevent further carnage and death and injury on our highways, it’s incumbent upon governments to do that,” he explains. “That is where the Crown prerogative and responsibility to protect the public weighs very heavily on our minds.”
A lawyer by trade, he stopped short on giving any sort of timeline as to when they might implement the change.
Karen Harrison lost her brother Tony; he was killed by a drunk driver while on his motorcycle on July 15th, 2012.
She says the way the system is now; it’s designed to fail families like hers.
“Judges are quoted as saying this is a minor crime and give just pittance of bail to people who were previously convicted of impaired driving, it’s a slap in the face to all of us,” she says.
“We want to protect our children from this happening and here we are saying ‘oh don’t worry about it, it’s a minor offence’. We have to change that attitude and judges have to change that attitude,” Harrison explains.
Kelly James York pleaded guilty to impaired driving and will appear in court next in February.