Ottawa, ON – Today, Langley Member of Parliament Mark Warawa joined the Hon. Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Families for Justice to announce the introduction of the Dangerous and Impaired Driving Act. The bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that would reform all transportation related offences in the Criminal Code, including those that relate to impaired driving. Families for Justice was represented today by Markita Kaulius Grace Pesa and Sheri Arsenault.
MP Warawa applauded the Government’s legislation, which complement’s MP Warawa’s efforts to call for stiffer penalties for dangerous and impaired driving. “The proposed legislation stands as a way forward to enhance the public safety of all Canadians and keep our roads safe,” said the Langley MP. “I have worked with Markita Kaulius and Families for Justicefor two and a half years by advocating for needed legislation. I have heard about the heart break and devastation that impaired drivers leave on victims, their families and loved ones. This reckless behaviour is unacceptable and has to stop. Those who break the law must face the consequences of their actions and not at the expense of the innocent lives of law-abiding Canadians.”
The reforms would crack down on those who drive while impaired and would modernize the Criminal Code provisions related to transportation offences. The proposed changes reflect the Government’s commitment in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to ensure that Canada is a country where those who break the law are punished for their actions and where prison time matches the severity of crimes committed.
“Our Government’s legislation is in line with my Private Members Bill, called Bill C-652: Kassandra’s Law, which I introduced on behalf of Canadians who have had a loved one killed by an impaired driver, said Warawa. “In 2011, 22-year-old Kassandra Kaulius was tragically killed by a drunk driver. Her family joined others who have also lost loved ones to impaired drivers, and created an organization called Families for Justice.” Nearly 100,000 Canadians have signed petitions calling for changes to the Criminal Code.
Since December of 2012, MP Warawa has worked with Families for Justice and other Members of Parliament on both sides of the House of Commons in order to present petitions asking that: (1) the offense of impaired driving causing death to be called Vehicular Homicide; and (2) that the Criminal Code be changed to require mandatory minimum sentencing for impaired driving causing death. While Kassandra’s Law would meet the first request, the Dangerous and Impaired Driving Act would meet fulfill the second request.
Kassandra’s Law was introduced in the House of Commons by MP Warawa on February 2, 2015.
Quick Facts on Dangerous and Impaired Driving Act
- The Dangerous and Impaired Driving Act would limit the use of technical defences and tighten disclosure rules related to alcohol impaired driving that have effectively clogged up the courts. The Bill would:
- simplify proof of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and tighten disclosure rules regarding breath testing;
- eliminate the ‘bolus drinking’ defence where the driver claims that the BAC over 80 at the time of testing was caused by heavy drinking just before driving so the alcohol was still being absorbed when stopped and their BAC at the time of driving was under 80; and
- strictly limit the ‘intervening drink’ defence where the driver claims the BAC over 80 was caused by drinking after driving.
- The Bill would harmonize and strengthen penalties for all transportation related offences, including increased penalties for repeat offenders, such as:
- making all transportation offences prior offences for one another with the effect of increasing penalties for repeat offenders;
- doubling maximum penalties for offences without bodily harm or death on indictment from five years to 10 years imprisonment and on summary conviction from 18 months imprisonment to two years less a day;
- making maximum penalties for all offences causing bodily harm 14 years imprisonment and increasing mandatory minimum penalties for indictable offences from a $1,000 fine for to 30 days imprisonment on summary conviction and 120 days on indictment; and
- increasing mandatory minimum penalties for impaired driving and refusal offences causing death from a $1,000 fine to 6 years in prison.
- Drivers impaired by drugs also pose a significant risk to Canadians and the government plans to consult widely following the upcoming report from the Drugs and Driving Committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science which will offer their conclusions on the levels of drugs that impair drivers and that could be measured by roadside screening devices.
- To make offenders more accountable for their crimes, the Bill proposes significant increases in maximum penalties for several transportation offences and introduces new mandatory minimum penalties in impaired driving and refusal cases that cause bodily harm and death.
- Text of Bill C-652: Kassandra’s Law
- Link to Families for Justice petition
- Text of Bill C-73: Dangers and Impaired Driving Act