Feb 25, 2015 - OP ED: DRUNK DRIVING FIGHT AN ENDLESS BATTLE

When he was sentenced in September 2010, Nicholas Piovesan asked for forgiveness. "I understand how much anger you must have toward me," Piovesan said.

"I hope you all find strength to forgive me, not so much for myself, but for yourself, so the anger and hurt does not destroy you," Piovesan said, as he looked at the family and friends of Steven Philippe, 16, Jazmine Houle, 15, and Caitlin Jelley, 15.

He struck and killed the teens as they walked along the shoulder of Municipal Road 80 around 12:30 a.m. on June 21, 2009.

Piovesan has said he has no memory of that night. He was pretty drunk; a toxicology expert estimated he would have had a breath-test reading anywhere from 160 to 220 when he hit them. The legal limit is 80.

The court was told Piovesan left a Hanmer bar and sped down the highway for about two km before the accident.

The tragedy shook the families of everyone involved, the city and the legal community. He was sentenced to seven years for criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle causing death; at the time, it was the harshest penalty of its kind handed out in Canada.

Now, however, Piovesan is about to be released from prison. The Parole Board of Canada says the now 31-year-old man will be freed in May and will live in Sturgeon Falls.

"Too soon," Jocelyne Phillipe, Steven's mom, told The Star on Monday. For the families of the victims, and for Sudburians in general, it will be hard to ever forgive Piovesan. Seven years in jail for killing three people doesn't seem right.

To their credit, the families have taken up the anti-drinking and driving crusade, helping form Impact 6/21 (the six representing June and 21, the day they were killed).

Retribution, of course, is only one of the goals of sentencing. Rehabilitation is another. In this case, we can only hope that Piovesan has learned from his mistakes and is ready to rejoin society.

The third goal of sentencing is deterrence. Did Piovesan's punishment deter others from drinking and driving? Unfortunately, the evidence for that is less than encouraging. Despite the publicity, the anti-drunk driving campaigns, and a police policy of releasing the names of suspected drunk drivers, far too many people in Sudbury continue to engage in the risky behaviour.

For example, in August, DJ Hancock, 18, died when he was struck by drunk driver Walter Carter, of Lively. Carter wasn't even supposed to be driving -- he was charged in January 2014 with impaired driving. He was waiting for the case to be dealt with when he killed Hancock, who was driving home from hockey practice. Carter was sentenced to five years.

Impaired driving is a habit that has proven difficult to shake. It is a crusade, however, that's worth the struggle.

Source: Sudbury Star


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