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MP Warawa joins MP Steven Blaney to announce the Impaired Driving Act
Ottawa, ON – Mark Warawa, Langley—Aldergrove Member of Parliament and Official Opposition Critic for Seniors, joined the Hon. Steven Blaney to announce the introduction of Bill C-226: Impaired Driving Act.
The bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that would reform transportation-related offences in the Criminal Code, including those that relate to impaired driving and mandatory screening. Specifically, the bill offers the courts greater discretion to hand down harsher sentences, including tougher sentences for impaired driving causing death and for repeat drunk drivers.
MP Warawa applauded the new legislation, which complements MP Warawa’s efforts in the last Parliament to call for stiffer penalties for dangerous and impaired driving.
“This legislation stands as a way forward to keep our roads safe,” said the Langley—Aldergrove MP. “Canadians should be safe from drunk drivers. This Parliament has an opportunity to ensure that the criminal code keeps Canadians safe.”
“The leading cause of criminal death in Canada is impaired driving,” continued Warawa. “Well over twelve hundred Canadians are killed every year because someone irresponsibly chose to drive while impaired instead of finding a safe way home.”
This legislation is in line with the Private Members Bill that MP Warawa introduced in the last Parliament, called Bill C-652: Kassandra’s Law. “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. They created an organization called Families for Justice.” To date, over 100,000 Canadians have signed their petition, which calls for changes to the Criminal Code.
Since 2012, MP Warawa has worked with Markita Kaulius and 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 offence of impaired driving causing death to be called Vehicular Homicide; and (2) that the Criminal Code be changed to require mandatory sentencing for impaired driving causing death. While Kassandra’s Law would meet the first request, the Impaired Driving Act would fulfill the second request.
Kassandra’s Law was introduced in the House of Commons by MP Warawa on February 2, 2015.
Backgrounder: Bill Summary
Tougher sentences for repeat drunk drivers offering courts greater discretion to hand down harsher sentences
- The maximum sentence for 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 5 to 25 years depending on severity and aggravating factors.
- When more than one life is lost, Justices will be able to apply consecutive sentences.
Relieving pressure on the courts by eliminating legal delays and loopholes
- This legislation would eliminate the bolus drinking defence used when the accused claims that their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was over 80 mg/dl at the time of the test because they quickly consumed several drinks just before driving.
- The bill would strictly limit the intervening drink defence, where an accused claims to have consumed alcohol after being stopped by the police and therefore their BAC would not have been over 80 while driving.
- Favour guilty pleas by giving lighter sentences to those who acknowledge their offence in good faith.
- The bill would permit mandatory screening, which would allow police to ask any driver at any time to provide a breath sample in order to determine its alcohol content. This was recommended by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
- Mandatory screening will increase the perceived probability of arrest for drunk driving for hardened repeat offenders.
- Researchers established that police identified no more than 50% of drivers whose blood alcohol content was over 80mg/dl.
- In a survey sponsored by Transport Canada and MADD Canada, 66% of Canadians felt that police should be allowed to randomly test a driver’s breath.
- Countries that implemented mandatory screening witnessed a significant decrease of the number of recorded road deaths.
MP Warawa joins Justice Minister and Families for Justice to announce the Dangerous and Impaired Driving Act
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 Justice for 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
Warawa Introduces C-652: Kassandra’s Law
Ottawa, ON – Today, Langley MP Mark Warawa rose in the House of Commons and delivered the following statement while introducing Private Members Bill C-652: Kassandra’s Law.
"Mr. Speaker, I’m honoured to introduce Kassandra’s Law on behalf of Canadians who have had a loved one killed by an impaired driver. I want to thank the Member for Winnipeg South Centre for her important support on this issue, and for her hard work.
“One thousand Canadians are killed every year by a person who chose to drive while they were drunk or impaired instead of taking a bus or a taxi. Impaired driving is the number one cause of criminal death in Canada every year, Mr. Speaker. Family and friends are devastated and their lives are torn apart when this happens.
“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 90,000 Canadians have signed petitions calling for changes to the Criminal Code.
“Mr. Speaker, Kassandra’s Law, does one thing that Families for Justice and tens of thousands of Canadians are callling for: to call this terrible crime what it truly is: ‘Vehicular Homicide.’
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.”
Bill C-652 in the News:
- Alberta police back effort for new law, stiffer penalties for killer drunk drivers (Calgary Radio: News Talk 770) – April 13, 2015
- Two Alberta mothers pushing for stricter penalties for impaired drivers (Calgary Herald) – April 8, 2015
- Families move one step closer to tough drunk driving law (The Now Newspaper) – February 12, 2015
- Langley MP introduces “Kassandra’s Law” into House of Commons (News 1130) - February 8, 2015
- Langley MP wants mandatory sentences for impaired driving deaths (Vancouver Sun) – February 6, 2015
Mark meets with Markita Kaulius from Families for Justice
Mark receives petitions from Markita Kaulius and Families for Justice
MP Mark Warawa introduces impaired driving petitions