The Spectator's View: Will 10 years be enough to get the message across?

Opinion Mar 29, 2016 Hamilton Spectator

Marco Muzzo was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for driving drunk and killing three children and their grandfather.

Will the sentence be enough to make people stop driving while impaired? If witnessing the shattered lives of the Neville-Lake family is not enough of a deterrent, let us hope this 10-year sentence will be.

By now you know the story of Muzzo, the 29 year-old heir to a construction empire who got drunk on a private plane coming home from his bachelor party and later plowed his jeep into a van killing 65-year-old Gary Neville and his three grandchildren: Daniel, 9, Harrison, 5, and Milagros Neville-Lake, 2.

At Muzzo's sentencing, Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst called it "a tragedy almost beyond comprehension" and added "a life sentence has been inflicted on the Neville-Lake … families." She also noted: "As this case so tragically illustrates, the message that every drinking driver is a potential killer of innocent members of the community continues to go unheeded."

The message clearly has gone unheeded. Over the Easter long weekend, the OPP charged 94 people with either impaired driving. In Hamilton, police charged three drivers with impaired driving and another with failing to provide a breath sample.

The number of people killed by drunk drivers is in the thousands. MADD Canada estimates that there are as many as 1,500 impairment-related crash deaths in Canada each year. Driving while impaired is the biggest factor in serious collisions in Canada. It is baffling that so many people continue to drive drunk despite knowing that obviously tragic consequences.

The courts use sentencing to help deter people from this criminal behaviour. Fuerst made note of the courts role during Muzzo's sentencing: "In cases of drinking and driving, particularly where death is involved, denunciation and general deterrence are the paramount sentencing objectives." 

The Crown had asked for 10 to 12 years, while the defence requested eight years. Fuerst imposed 10, with a 12-year driving ban after he is released from prison. (One wonders why a lifetime driving ban was not called for under these circumstances.)

The courts are only part of the solution. As we have noted before, the government can play a role in putting a stop to this entirely preventable crime. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse notes a number of possible initiatives to cope with our lack of progress in reducing impaired driving, such as random or mandatory breath testing, random drug testing and enhanced sanctions against impaired drivers.

Jennifer Neville-Lake says her every waking moment is "haunted by what was and can never be again." We must do everything possible to ensure no one has to experience pain like hers again.

Cheryl Stepan

The Spectator's View: Will 10 years be enough to get the message across?

Opinion Mar 29, 2016 Hamilton Spectator

Marco Muzzo was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for driving drunk and killing three children and their grandfather.

Will the sentence be enough to make people stop driving while impaired? If witnessing the shattered lives of the Neville-Lake family is not enough of a deterrent, let us hope this 10-year sentence will be.

By now you know the story of Muzzo, the 29 year-old heir to a construction empire who got drunk on a private plane coming home from his bachelor party and later plowed his jeep into a van killing 65-year-old Gary Neville and his three grandchildren: Daniel, 9, Harrison, 5, and Milagros Neville-Lake, 2.

At Muzzo's sentencing, Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst called it "a tragedy almost beyond comprehension" and added "a life sentence has been inflicted on the Neville-Lake … families." She also noted: "As this case so tragically illustrates, the message that every drinking driver is a potential killer of innocent members of the community continues to go unheeded."

The message clearly has gone unheeded. Over the Easter long weekend, the OPP charged 94 people with either impaired driving. In Hamilton, police charged three drivers with impaired driving and another with failing to provide a breath sample.

The number of people killed by drunk drivers is in the thousands. MADD Canada estimates that there are as many as 1,500 impairment-related crash deaths in Canada each year. Driving while impaired is the biggest factor in serious collisions in Canada. It is baffling that so many people continue to drive drunk despite knowing that obviously tragic consequences.

The courts use sentencing to help deter people from this criminal behaviour. Fuerst made note of the courts role during Muzzo's sentencing: "In cases of drinking and driving, particularly where death is involved, denunciation and general deterrence are the paramount sentencing objectives." 

The Crown had asked for 10 to 12 years, while the defence requested eight years. Fuerst imposed 10, with a 12-year driving ban after he is released from prison. (One wonders why a lifetime driving ban was not called for under these circumstances.)

The courts are only part of the solution. As we have noted before, the government can play a role in putting a stop to this entirely preventable crime. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse notes a number of possible initiatives to cope with our lack of progress in reducing impaired driving, such as random or mandatory breath testing, random drug testing and enhanced sanctions against impaired drivers.

Jennifer Neville-Lake says her every waking moment is "haunted by what was and can never be again." We must do everything possible to ensure no one has to experience pain like hers again.

Cheryl Stepan

The Spectator's View: Will 10 years be enough to get the message across?

Opinion Mar 29, 2016 Hamilton Spectator

Marco Muzzo was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for driving drunk and killing three children and their grandfather.

Will the sentence be enough to make people stop driving while impaired? If witnessing the shattered lives of the Neville-Lake family is not enough of a deterrent, let us hope this 10-year sentence will be.

By now you know the story of Muzzo, the 29 year-old heir to a construction empire who got drunk on a private plane coming home from his bachelor party and later plowed his jeep into a van killing 65-year-old Gary Neville and his three grandchildren: Daniel, 9, Harrison, 5, and Milagros Neville-Lake, 2.

At Muzzo's sentencing, Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst called it "a tragedy almost beyond comprehension" and added "a life sentence has been inflicted on the Neville-Lake … families." She also noted: "As this case so tragically illustrates, the message that every drinking driver is a potential killer of innocent members of the community continues to go unheeded."

The message clearly has gone unheeded. Over the Easter long weekend, the OPP charged 94 people with either impaired driving. In Hamilton, police charged three drivers with impaired driving and another with failing to provide a breath sample.

The number of people killed by drunk drivers is in the thousands. MADD Canada estimates that there are as many as 1,500 impairment-related crash deaths in Canada each year. Driving while impaired is the biggest factor in serious collisions in Canada. It is baffling that so many people continue to drive drunk despite knowing that obviously tragic consequences.

The courts use sentencing to help deter people from this criminal behaviour. Fuerst made note of the courts role during Muzzo's sentencing: "In cases of drinking and driving, particularly where death is involved, denunciation and general deterrence are the paramount sentencing objectives." 

The Crown had asked for 10 to 12 years, while the defence requested eight years. Fuerst imposed 10, with a 12-year driving ban after he is released from prison. (One wonders why a lifetime driving ban was not called for under these circumstances.)

The courts are only part of the solution. As we have noted before, the government can play a role in putting a stop to this entirely preventable crime. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse notes a number of possible initiatives to cope with our lack of progress in reducing impaired driving, such as random or mandatory breath testing, random drug testing and enhanced sanctions against impaired drivers.

Jennifer Neville-Lake says her every waking moment is "haunted by what was and can never be again." We must do everything possible to ensure no one has to experience pain like hers again.

Cheryl Stepan