That is the amount of time that has passed since Gracie was killed – yes, I used the k-word. It was not an accident. Once alcohol is involved, it is no longer an accident…it is a crash…it is a choice…it is a crime…it is not an accident.
These numbers represent lost hugs and kisses, missed bedtime stories, missed stories about her day…her first boyfriend…her first kiss…her Grade 8 graduation….her first day of high school, missed laughter, vacations, missed birthdays, missed Christmases, missed Halloweens. These times represent each breath that I have taken since Grace died. These times represent each time that I have curled up into a ball in bed or pulled off to the side of the road and cried until I had nothing left. These times represent the “family events” that we fake our way through with our now incomplete family. They represent sleepless nights.
Here are some other numbers for you. Since Grace was killed, 5480 more people have been killed by Impaired Drivers in Canada (as compared to approximately 1750 that have been victims of all other forms of Homicide combined). 197,280 have been injured by Impaired Drivers in Canada. Somewhere between 75 BILLION dollars and 249BILLION dollars (depending on source) have been spent cleaning up after Impaired Drivers.
40% of Motor Vehicle Collisions in Canada involve alcohol (World Health Organization and Insurance Bureau of Canada). Canada has the highest rate of Impaired Driving of all of the more developed countries (World Health Organization, MADD). We are one of only a very few countries with a Blood Alcohol Level still at the .08mg (World Health Organization).
Of all of the cases where an Impaired Driver is involved in a crash and a death occurs, only 22% are actually charged with Impaired Driving Causing Death. Only 50% of those are convicted of that crime (most plead down). Only 11% receive a jail sentence (that works out to 12 jail sentences for every 500 cases of Impaired Driving Causing Death). In our case, the driver pled guilty to Over .08mg. He was given a $1250.00 fine and a 1 year licence suspension. That is what an 11 year old child’s life is worth in our courts.
The average jail sentence for a person convicted of Impaired Driving Causing Death is 3 years. In Canada, if there is more than one victim the sentences are served concurrently. That means that it doesn’t matter if they hit a motorcycle with one victim or a van load of 5 kids, they will still only have a sentence of 3 years. If they are sentenced to 3 years, they are eligible for day parole in 5 months and full parole in 8 months. ( So, as in the Grande Prairie case where 4 boys were killed and 1 severely injured the Impaired Driver was sentenced to 3 years on February 27, 2013. He was granted parole in early October of 2013…just before Thanksgiving.)
Yesterday I asked all of you to recognize Gracie’s Life Legacy by registering for Organ Donation. Today I am asking you recognize her Fighting Injustice legacy by logging onto the Families for Justice website and printing a copy of the petition. Then please sign it and ask your friends and families as well and send them into the same address as The Empty Shoe Project on our About Us page.
The petition is asking for changes to be made to the law to close up some of the loopholes (loopholes big enough to drive a Ford F-150 through). It is also asking for Mandatory Minimums. We are not asking a lot. We are simply asking for the penalty to be consistent and to send a slightly stronger message.
It is devastating enough to have your child die. It is devastating enough to have your child killed. It is too devastating to then be beaten down by the Criminal Court System when you were a victim of someone else’s crime. The members of Families for Justice have already lived these numbers. We have already lived this pain. We are fighting so that you do not have to be dragged into this dark place with us.
80% of Canadians rank Impaired Driving as a problem that needs addressing. I guess that if you are reading this, you are probably one of the 80% so, please, take the 5 minutes that it will take to print off the petition (the link is on our Home page down the right side), sign it, pass it around the office to be signed, put it into an envelope, address it, put a stamp on it and mail it back to me.
Yesterday, I asked you to take 5 minutes to register as an Organ Donor and potentially save 8 lives. Today, I am asking you to take that same 5 minutes and potentially save thousands.