Mar 12, 2016 - OPINION: THROW BOOK AT DRUNK DRIVERS


Society’s tolerance for drinking and driving is killing innocent people, over and over again


Under the Criminal Code, it is an offence to knowingly utter or convey a threat to cause death or bodily harm to any person.

I think about that every time I see or hear about someone getting caught driving under the influence.

What’s the connection? If you can’t see it, you’re not alone.

The recent trial of Marco Muzzo cast a harsh spotlight on drunks who end up killing innocent people.

But that light will soon wink out, once the wealthy, ill-fated Muzzo does his time and then resumes his life, leaving the Neville-Lake family to live with the agony of the permanent loss of their three children and a grandfather.

Currently it is still legal to drink and drive, so long as your blood-alcohol level is below 0.08.

But come on. Anyone who has had a drink or two in their lives knows that the same amount of alcohol can affect you in very different ways at different times, depending on a number of factors.

Sometimes, one or two drinks can feel like nothing. At another time, they can go straight to your head.

An arbitrary 0.08% blood alcohol level may be a convenient legal marker but it is not effective in predicting the real impact of alcohol on the human brain and body in every situation.

As such, it is not effective in helping guarantee the safety of innocent people.

Any blood alcohol level above zero means a degree of intoxication: a slow poisoning of the brain, particularly in the areas of reaction and judgment.

But still it remains socially acceptable for people to have a couple of drinks and get behind the wheel.

Basically, we rely on an impaired person’s judgment to self-regulate their behavior, even though it is his or her judgment that gets poisoned by alcohol.

If I walk down the street waving an automatic weapon, I will likely be taken down pretty quickly by police.

If I light up a cigarette in a public place, I will be ushered out by people whose rights to a healthy life are being violated.

And if I send threatening messages by phone, text or social media, many people will come after me.

But alcohol? It has been part of society for thousands of years. It feels like an old friend.

I am not a Puritan, banging on the temperance drum nor am I against alcohol consumption in general.

But I have always been against giving any person permission to threaten the public.

And a car being driven by a drunk person is a deadly weapon.

Just because most drunk drivers make it home, wiping their brows in secret relief that they didn’t hit anyone, does not make the problem go away.

Physics allows no do-overs. An impaired driver may make a judgment call about how much of the centre line to ride, or how safe it will be to rush the amber intersection light.

But mass and speed offer no special favours.

And too often, it is innocents who pay.

If there is anything we can take from the Muzzo case before it vanishes from the news cycle, it’s that more must be done to make people think before they drink and drive.

Poison in your brain guarantees a reduced ability to operate a car.

The decision to drink, in full knowledge of this fact, becomes a death threat, uttered through the action of requesting or accepting a neurotoxin in full knowledge of the possible consequences.

Every one of us, including our friends and children, are sitting ducks, candidates for the next horrific death from DUI.

Something needs to change.

Perhaps it’s Parliament’s tolerance and indeed codified approval of alcohol in a driver’s body, that should change first.

Perhaps, at the next trial of the next Muzzo — whoever he or she happens to be — the prosecution, representing the public interest, can implicate the government in some way for failing in its duty of care to protect against a wrongful death.

So long as governments collect revenue on that fatal cocktail, at least some innocent blood is on their hands.

Source: Toronto Sun


 

Last updated on: 2016-03-26 | Link to this post