The Record's view: How can people drink and drive?

Opinion Mar 30, 2016 by Editorial Waterloo Region Record

If the tragic, infuriating case of Marco Muzzo and the four people he killed last September does not convince Canadians to stop drinking too much when they drive, nothing will.

If the pictures of his innocent victims — three fresh-faced young siblings and their loving grandfather — cannot deter people from downing too many beers or shooters before recklessly getting behind the wheel of their car, then basic humanity means nothing in this land.

If the anguished message that came Tuesday from the dead children's mother — Jennifer Neville-Lake — fails to haunt everyone who remotely considers driving after lapping up too much booze, well, those people are deaf to moral suasion as well as the words of the law.

"Please, keep in mind: when you choose to drink and drive you're hurting other families, you're killing someone else's babies, like mine were killed," Neville-Lake said with tears in her eyes, driving home the point more eloquently and forcefully than any lawyer, judge or politician could ever do.

And finally, if the stiff sentence of 10 years in prison handed out to the billionaire's grandson whose thoughtless, irresponsible behaviour resulted in so much physical carnage and emotional pain fails to prevent others from committing the same vile crime, no punishment on this Earth will.

There are those who will say the sentence brought down by Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst in a Newmarket courtroom Tuesday was too light and that the full force of the law should have fallen with an even more devastating impact on Muzzo. His freely made decision to drink nearly three times beyond the legal limit, climb into his SUV and speed through a stop sign destroyed an entire generation of one family in the blink of an eye at an intersection in Vaughan.

But the fact is, nothing the court could do could restore the lives of his victims and bring peace to their family. The lengthy prison sentence, plus a ban on Muzzo having a driver's licence for 12 years after he leaves custody, was appropriate and fair given the demands of our legal system and precedents in other cases.

Muzzo had quickly pleaded guilty to his crimes, accepting his responsibility and expressing remorse. He had no criminal record, though he had an extensive record of speeding violations.

While the stiffest sentence handed to a drunk driver in Canada was life in prison, on that occasion it was given to someone who had 18 impaired driving convictions before he finally killed someone. Considering most sentences for impaired driving fall in the range of four to six years, the rebuke to Muzzo is hard, though fully deserved. The court has appropriately denounced his actions. There is consolation, too, in knowing the justice system was blind to the wealth and power of this young man's family.

What remains to be seen is whether this case, and the sentence imposed, will deter. While incidents of impaired driving in Canada have dropped in recent decades, police laid nearly 75,000 charges for this crime in 2014. Moreover, 598 people were killed by drunk drivers nationwide in the four-year period from 2009 to 2012. There are still too many drunks and too many deaths.

"For as long as Mr. Muzzo has been alive, the courts have warned about the consequences of impaired driving," Justice Fuerst reminded us all. "Yet the message escaped him. It is important that it does not escape others."

Nothing more needs to be said. So much more must change.

The Record's view: How can people drink and drive?

Opinion Mar 30, 2016 by Editorial Waterloo Region Record

If the tragic, infuriating case of Marco Muzzo and the four people he killed last September does not convince Canadians to stop drinking too much when they drive, nothing will.

If the pictures of his innocent victims — three fresh-faced young siblings and their loving grandfather — cannot deter people from downing too many beers or shooters before recklessly getting behind the wheel of their car, then basic humanity means nothing in this land.

If the anguished message that came Tuesday from the dead children's mother — Jennifer Neville-Lake — fails to haunt everyone who remotely considers driving after lapping up too much booze, well, those people are deaf to moral suasion as well as the words of the law.

"Please, keep in mind: when you choose to drink and drive you're hurting other families, you're killing someone else's babies, like mine were killed," Neville-Lake said with tears in her eyes, driving home the point more eloquently and forcefully than any lawyer, judge or politician could ever do.

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And finally, if the stiff sentence of 10 years in prison handed out to the billionaire's grandson whose thoughtless, irresponsible behaviour resulted in so much physical carnage and emotional pain fails to prevent others from committing the same vile crime, no punishment on this Earth will.

There are those who will say the sentence brought down by Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst in a Newmarket courtroom Tuesday was too light and that the full force of the law should have fallen with an even more devastating impact on Muzzo. His freely made decision to drink nearly three times beyond the legal limit, climb into his SUV and speed through a stop sign destroyed an entire generation of one family in the blink of an eye at an intersection in Vaughan.

But the fact is, nothing the court could do could restore the lives of his victims and bring peace to their family. The lengthy prison sentence, plus a ban on Muzzo having a driver's licence for 12 years after he leaves custody, was appropriate and fair given the demands of our legal system and precedents in other cases.

Muzzo had quickly pleaded guilty to his crimes, accepting his responsibility and expressing remorse. He had no criminal record, though he had an extensive record of speeding violations.

While the stiffest sentence handed to a drunk driver in Canada was life in prison, on that occasion it was given to someone who had 18 impaired driving convictions before he finally killed someone. Considering most sentences for impaired driving fall in the range of four to six years, the rebuke to Muzzo is hard, though fully deserved. The court has appropriately denounced his actions. There is consolation, too, in knowing the justice system was blind to the wealth and power of this young man's family.

What remains to be seen is whether this case, and the sentence imposed, will deter. While incidents of impaired driving in Canada have dropped in recent decades, police laid nearly 75,000 charges for this crime in 2014. Moreover, 598 people were killed by drunk drivers nationwide in the four-year period from 2009 to 2012. There are still too many drunks and too many deaths.

"For as long as Mr. Muzzo has been alive, the courts have warned about the consequences of impaired driving," Justice Fuerst reminded us all. "Yet the message escaped him. It is important that it does not escape others."

Nothing more needs to be said. So much more must change.

The Record's view: How can people drink and drive?

Opinion Mar 30, 2016 by Editorial Waterloo Region Record

If the tragic, infuriating case of Marco Muzzo and the four people he killed last September does not convince Canadians to stop drinking too much when they drive, nothing will.

If the pictures of his innocent victims — three fresh-faced young siblings and their loving grandfather — cannot deter people from downing too many beers or shooters before recklessly getting behind the wheel of their car, then basic humanity means nothing in this land.

If the anguished message that came Tuesday from the dead children's mother — Jennifer Neville-Lake — fails to haunt everyone who remotely considers driving after lapping up too much booze, well, those people are deaf to moral suasion as well as the words of the law.

"Please, keep in mind: when you choose to drink and drive you're hurting other families, you're killing someone else's babies, like mine were killed," Neville-Lake said with tears in her eyes, driving home the point more eloquently and forcefully than any lawyer, judge or politician could ever do.

Related Content

And finally, if the stiff sentence of 10 years in prison handed out to the billionaire's grandson whose thoughtless, irresponsible behaviour resulted in so much physical carnage and emotional pain fails to prevent others from committing the same vile crime, no punishment on this Earth will.

There are those who will say the sentence brought down by Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst in a Newmarket courtroom Tuesday was too light and that the full force of the law should have fallen with an even more devastating impact on Muzzo. His freely made decision to drink nearly three times beyond the legal limit, climb into his SUV and speed through a stop sign destroyed an entire generation of one family in the blink of an eye at an intersection in Vaughan.

But the fact is, nothing the court could do could restore the lives of his victims and bring peace to their family. The lengthy prison sentence, plus a ban on Muzzo having a driver's licence for 12 years after he leaves custody, was appropriate and fair given the demands of our legal system and precedents in other cases.

Muzzo had quickly pleaded guilty to his crimes, accepting his responsibility and expressing remorse. He had no criminal record, though he had an extensive record of speeding violations.

While the stiffest sentence handed to a drunk driver in Canada was life in prison, on that occasion it was given to someone who had 18 impaired driving convictions before he finally killed someone. Considering most sentences for impaired driving fall in the range of four to six years, the rebuke to Muzzo is hard, though fully deserved. The court has appropriately denounced his actions. There is consolation, too, in knowing the justice system was blind to the wealth and power of this young man's family.

What remains to be seen is whether this case, and the sentence imposed, will deter. While incidents of impaired driving in Canada have dropped in recent decades, police laid nearly 75,000 charges for this crime in 2014. Moreover, 598 people were killed by drunk drivers nationwide in the four-year period from 2009 to 2012. There are still too many drunks and too many deaths.

"For as long as Mr. Muzzo has been alive, the courts have warned about the consequences of impaired driving," Justice Fuerst reminded us all. "Yet the message escaped him. It is important that it does not escape others."

Nothing more needs to be said. So much more must change.