Stiffer sentences for drunk drivers may soon be making their way into Canadian law books.
Introduced as a private member’s bill on Tuesday, Feb. 23, Bill C-226 the ‘Impaired Driving Act’ offers the courts greater discretion in handing down harsher sentences, including longer jail terms for impaired driving causing death and for repeat drunk drivers.
Langley Conservative MP Mark Warawa applauded the new bill introduced by former Public Safety Minister and fellow Tory, Steven Blaney.
When the Conservatives were in power, Warawa introduced a private member’s bill called Kassandra’s Law, which called for the offence of impaired driving causing death to be designated ‘vehicular homicide.’
If C-226 is passed, the maximum sentence for impaired driving causing bodily harm will increase from 10 to 14 years, offering justices greater discretion, while repeat offenders will face a one-year prison sentence for a second offence, and a two-year sentence for a third offence.
For impaired driving causing death, sentences will vary from five to 25 years depending on severity and aggravating factors.
When more than one life is lost, justices will be able to apply consecutive sentences
“This legislation stands as a way forward to keep our roads safe,” said Warawa.
“The leading cause of criminal death in Canada is impaired driving.”
More than 1,200 Canadians are killed every year by drunk drivers.
This legislation is in line with the private member’s bill that Warawa introduced in the last Parliament, he said.
“In 2011, 22-year-old Kassandra Kaulius was tragically killed by a drunk driver.
“Following Kassandra’s death, her family joined other victims’ families with the resolve to ensure that what happened to Kassandra would never happen to another son or daughter,” said Warawa.
“They created an organization called Families for Justice.”
More than 100,000 Canadians have signed the petition, which calls for changes to the Criminal Code.
This announcement comes on the heels of the provincial government’s decision to toughen up driving laws for repeat impaired drivers.
Now repeat offenders will be required to take the Responsible Driver Program which includes counselling and possibly the Ignition Interlock Program.