Category Archives: Uncategorized

If This Were a Horse Race

If the laws and sentencing related to Drunk Drivers in this country were a horse race we’d be the horse that goes the wrong direction out of the gate, then when it tries to turn around gets tangled up with its rider, the gate, the fence, and then trips and falls flat on it’s face breaking all four legs and having to be put down to put it out of it’s misery.

Somehow, Ontario statistics and StatsCan would manage to post it as the winner and pay everyone that bid on it to Win.

Don’t Mess With the Mamas

This is a statement that has been repeated in our house throughout my daughters’ lives.  It was the favourite line to use whenever they would push the boundaries, John or I would say to them “Don’t mess with the Mama”.  That way they knew that they were coming up on the boundary of the “law as set by the parental units”.  Any further and they knew that the punishment would be carried out as established (time outs, privileges taken away, time spent in their room, etc…).  We tried to be consistent and we also tried to not threaten a punishment that we weren’t prepared to follow through on.  We never said that they would be grounded for a week when really we only planned on grounding them for an hour.(  Of all of the crashes where an Impaired Driver caused a death, only 22% are even charged by the courts (MADD statistic) and then only 11% of those cases actually end with a jail sentence.  Even then, the drunk driver will spend less than 1 year in jail vs the life sentence that the victims’ families get).

Now that I have had a chance to speak/email/text many of the “mamas” (this includes the papas too but saying the Mamas and the Papas just gets too confusing for some of us of a certain age.  We just start humming California Dreaming…….you’re humming it now aren’t you) I need to revise the line to say, “Don’t mess with the mamas”.  I think that that should be our warning cry to our politicians,  “Don’t mess with the mamas”.   We’re tired of your behaviour, we are tired of you threatening criminals with punishments that you have absolutely no intention of following through on and it’s time that someone took away your privileges and sent you for a time out (oh wait, you already do enough time outs….okay, so time ins then).  Simply put, you are going to have to deal with us because we are not going to give up, we are not going to go away.  It’s not an option for us.  Someone else stole our loved ones, stole our lives that we had worked so hard to create, and left us with Empty Shoes and Empty Hearts.  Drunk Drivers created us and now you have to deal with us.

Of course whenever I think about speaking to and dealing with politicians, I am reminded of the other favourite saying in our house when dealing with an intelligent, opinionated  17 year old daughter….“Don’t feed the crazy.”

Canada…a third world nation

If I read one more time that “Canada has some of the strictest laws and punishments regarding Impaired Driving” I will scream…through a bullhorn…while on Parliament Hill…wearing nothing (okay that’s just going to scare everyone)…wearing a sign that says “don’t write for a magazine or a newspaper if you are going to pull statements like that out of your ass.” (too much?)

As of 2004 our BAC was the same as Benin, Botswana,Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire, Ireland, Lesotho, New Zealand, Swaziland, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, The United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe.  Since then Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom have lowered their BAC and toughened their sentencing.  We are on par with some third world countries.  Even most of the third world countries have tougher laws than we do.  We are not a world leader.  We are not even a world follower.  We’re the kid in the back of the class with a great family, lots of financial security and  plenty of intelligence that just doesn’t give a crap and continues to fail classes because “it’s too much work to do anything.”

Here are some of the more interesting penalties that I have found throughout my  research.

Malaysia:
The Driver is jailed and if married, his wife is jailed too. (okay, this one I’ll admit is unfair but I’ll bet that he never does it again because she is going to make him wish he had gotten a life sentence in prison)

Australia:
The names of the drivers are sent to the local newspapers and are printed under the heading “He’s Drunk and in Jail.”  (I can only hope that pictures are included)

South Africa:
A 10 year prison sentence and the equivalent of a $10,000 fine.

Turkey:
Drunk drivers are taken 20 miles outside of town by police and are forced to walk back under escort.

Finland & Sweden:
Automatic jail for one year of hard labor.  (Not surprisingly, these 2 countries ARE world leaders in deterring Impaired Driving.  Their rates are almost non-existent without fudging their statistics)

Costa Rica:
Police remove plates from car.

Russia:
Not many may be surprised that they have tough laws based on Russians long love affair with alcohol. If caught driving under the influence of alcohol, you lose your driving license for life. Even upon the first offense.

The Drunk Driver in the Grand Prairie case from October 22, 2011 in which 4 boys ( the young football players – I know we all remember that one) were killed will be up for parole this month.  He was only sentenced on February 28, 2103 – not a typo, yes 2013….THIS YEAR.  Less than 10 months in jail for killing 4 boys.

It should probably be noted that Australia has seen a HUGE decrease in Impaired Driving in the last five years (where ours is going UP)….as has Russia.  It should probably be pointed out as well that Finland and Sweden consistently have the lowest rates.  Hmmm????  Just sayin.

 

This Idea May Very Well Cost Me My Canadian Passport

I was speaking with someone the other night and they told me that Impaired Drivers are no longer killing 4 innocent people every day in Canada, it’s now 6 innocent victims every day.  That’s a 50% rise in killings every day.  Think about that for a moment.

That same day, it was all over the news in Ontario that the Toronto Maple Leafs had their home opener.   Forget wars, hunger, murders, natural disasters, medical advancements….no, the Toronto Maple Leafs had their home opener.

It got me to thinking (which is generally a very dangerous thing).  So, what I want people to do is imagine that the 6  hockey players are killed every day.  NHL, OHL, AAA, Bantam….pick an age and a league.  At least 1 per day must be under the age of 16, so pick someone young that you know.  NOW THAT might just get the Canadian collective to finally get up off of our complacent asses and do something to stop this.  That’s what finally worked for concussions even though the number 1 cause of head injury (way more serious than a concussion and often not recoverable) is still being hit by a drunk driver.  Once Sidney Crosby got a concussion, the world stopped and made the biggest deal about concussions that I’ve ever heard.  I would love to compare my brain scan to his any day.

Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, Children and Friends we can live without apparently but hockey players????

On that note I will end this blog and wait for the Canadian Government to release it’s own petition to have my passport revoked.

PS – speaking of petitions go to the Families For Justice Petition link on the home page, download the petition, sign it and send it back in.

Standing in Solidarity

Last night I had a chance to “top up” my faith in humanity.  John, Hannah, Clarissa (our niece) and I went down to Toronto to attend a Me To We event featuring the Kenyan Boys Choir, Neverest (a band – really nice young men with some cool tattoos.  Thanks for letting my take pictures of them for Gray.), Wilson and Jackson (ask the average 14 year old that’s been involved with We Day or Free The Children) and a bunch of people that would quite literally give you the shirt off of their backs (shirts that probably say BE THE CHANGE on them).  The evening was organized to show solidarity for the young men that were here in Canada and the Kenyan people after the events of 2 weeks ago.  I should probably mention that Free The Children was one of Gracie’s charities/causes of choice.

Many of these people are the reason that I am doing this blog and The Empty Shoes Project.  I realized that I kept telling kids that they could Be The Change.  They just had to believe and persevere.  Then my therapists all went away for the same week and I had time to think, “wait, if they can Be The Change with no real experience and no real resources then what excuse do I have for not Being The Change.? How dare I, knowing what I know now about Impaired Driving in the country and the court system that ignores the problem, choose to continue the complacency and leave this problem for the next generation? ” The overwhelmingly painful fact is that I cannot do anything to bring back Gracie (believe me, all of us parents have tried every form of bargaining with any and all Gods to have just 5 more minutes with our babies) but I can try my best so that no other parents has their heart ripped out and stomped on.  It’s a pain that cannot be expressed.  It can only be experienced and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

I have spent the last couple of months reading about so many other people’s tragedies and the absolute injustices perpetrated against them by the Criminal Courts and was starting to question why I was doing this….why I was putting myself (and my family) through this.  It just seemed so futile. Three nights ago, I spent 3 hours on the phone with Sheri Arsenault (you”re welcome Bell).  Two nights ago, I was on Facebook with a group of other parents that have lost their children because of Drunk Drivers and are trying to make a change to the laws and penalties.  Last night I was surrounded by a large group of really amazing people.  I’m refuelled.  Thanks everyone.

“…more in keeping with European Standards”

For those of you living in Ontario these were the words spoken by, our then Premier, Dalton McGuinty when he lifted the ban on beer tents.  Now, in Ontario, you don’t have to only drink alcohol in Beer Tents.  You can wander around events and drink….”more in keeping with European standards”.  Of course, he failed to mention to the people of Ontario that most European countries have a BAC of .02 or .05.  He also failed to mention that most European countries have mandatory jail sentences if you are caught drunk driving.  Oh, and he failed to mention that most European countries have tough, mandatory jail sentences if you injure or kill someone while driving drunk.  And he failed to mention that Ontario’s numbers, although they keep showing a drop in Impaired Driving Causing Death/Injury actually represent a drop in charges for Impaired Driving Causing Death/Injury (the courts are not prosecuting 78% of cases filed by the police).  And last but certainly not least, he failed to mention that ALL European countries have seen a drop in drunk driving (unlike Canada).

So, in keeping with a discussion about European standards and a “let them have beer” kind of discussion I am reminded of a former European leader that said, “let them eat cake.” which was followed by “off with her head” if memory serves.

Maybe it’s time to remind our politicians that WE VOTE THEM IN AND WE CAN VOTE THEM OUT.

A Thought About “Double Bunking”

I read a newspaper article that absolutely floored me a couple of months ago and finally stopped wanting to strangle someone long enough to form a coherent rebuttal.

The article spoke about the Opposition Parties concern over the new, more strict, more punitive Impaired Driving legislation.  Their big concern is that we are moving to an American style of punitive justice that will result in “double bunking” in prisons for those found guilty of Impaired Driving Causing Death and Impaired Driving Causing Bodily Harm if the laws are changed to close the loopholes so that they are all prosecuted (instead of the 22% that are prosecuted now) and if we impose a mandatory minimum (currently, most spend about 6 months in jail for killing someone).

I suppose the alternative of “double bunking” in our hospitals  (if there is even a bed available) and cemeteries is preferred by the Opposition since that is what we are facing now.

We’re Number One! We’re Number One

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    I found this chart in a World Health Organization report on the State of Impaired Driving around the world and guess what I discovered….We’re Number One.  Are we number one for education, laws, enforcement, punishment, avoidance?  No.  WE’RE … Continue reading

Is Driving a Right or a Privilege? Part Deux (for those in the courts, Part Duh)

 

If it’s a right, then why are we paying so much money for our daughter to get licensed (between Drivers’ Education courses and the multiple tests for each level of licensing).  Why isn’t it automatic?  You turn 16 and low and behold your license arrives in the mail.

If it’s a privilege, then why are people with 17 Impaired Driving convictions  still licensed ? (that was actually a case in the same courthouse that refused to charge the driver that was involved in our crash with more than Over .08 )

I don’t have the answers to everything, I’m just putting the questions out there .

For those of you that have followed from the beginning, yes this is a re-post but after reading an article that was sent to me by Sheri Arsenault, I am feeling the need to say it again.  The article was about a Drunk Driver that killed two teenagers.  He did receive a prison sentence (almost unheard of in Ontario) but when the Crown (thank you for renewing my faith in Crown Attorneys, by the way) asked for a lifetime ban on driving – as per the laws that we Canadians asked for and expect to be followed – the judge (there goes my faith in the courts) felt that that was too much to ask for and only gave him a 10 year licence suspension.

When Grace and I were hit, the drunk driver received a 1 year licence suspension. It took me almost 1 year to be able to drive again – with a lot of hard work and  in car sessions with Young drivers.  Stay with me, this will make sense.

So here is how I think that licence suspensions should work.  The drunk driver’s licence suspension time frame should last as long as it takes their victims to be able to drive and then should begin.  So in cases like mine, he would have been able to drive 1 years after I started, so the suspension would have actually been 2 years.  In the case of the drunk driver in the case above his 10 year licence suspension should begin when his victims could drive again.  Oh wait,  they won’t be driving because he killed them.

So the next time that you hear about a drunk driver, recommend my suggestion to the judge.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get our point across.

Apparently there are no victims of drunk drivers

I have now spent 8 weeks poring over every study, statistic, report about Impaired Driving or Impaired Drivers and believe me there are a boatload  of them.  I have discovered a very disturbing trend among them.  Everyone seems to want to study the Impaired Drivers and their deaths and injuries but I can’t find one study about the damage done to the victims of their crime.  All of them point to a drop in the number of Impaired Drivers that are dying or are injured but there are no statistics being kept on the innocent victims of Impaired Drivers.

For anyone that is reading this from outside Ontario do not look at our rates and say, “well if they can do it, so can we.”  The truth of the matter is that most victims are not counted.  Victims are only counted if the Impaired Driver is charge with Impaired Causing Death or Injury and only 1/4 of Impaired Drivers are charged with that crime even when there is a death or injury involved.  It is a failing of our provinces courts.  It is a failing of our government and a failing of our Attorney General’s office.  Take the number that you see in the statistic and multiply it by 4.  Now you’re much closer.  Most are pled down to Over .08, which is a victimless crime.  Therefore, we are not counted among the dead and dying.

I know that sometimes making the system change seems insurmountable but remember, “Policy is made from the top down but change is made from the bottom up.”