“Man accused of impair driving, killing man in Mississauga crash, appears in court”
This is one of the headlines splashed all over social media locally in the Greater Toronto Area today.
Essentially a 20 year old man faces nine alcohol-related charges, including impaired driving and criminal negligence causing death, after a collision in Mississauga left a 40-year-old man dead, his two-year-old son in hospital and his wife devastated.
“Police say Millett was intoxicated as he sped westbound from a Queen Elizabeth Way off-ramp around 3:30 a.m. Sunday with three passengers in a black, four-door Dodge Caliber.
Mounir Mahious, with his wife and two-year-old son, drove southbound on Cawthra Rd. when, according to police, the hatchback barreled into the driver’s side of Mahious’s Kia Rio.
The force of the collision ejected Mahious and his son, Djibril, from the car, despite both being buckled in. The crash left the driver’s side of Mahious’s Kia shorn off and the Caliber came to rest hundreds of feet away, flipped on its roof.”
We can all agree that this is a horrific, avoidable situation and a life taken much too early.
The thing is it’s gotten me thinking, should someone who causes a death while driving intoxicated be charged with manslaughter?
There are different charges for a death caused by someone driving intoxicated.
Here’s the breakdown:
First degree murder = premeditated murder. We do not have capital punishment in Canada so a person who is convicted of first degree murder is sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years. The calculation for those 25 years begins when the person has been arrested and placed in custody, not when they are convicted and found guilty. There is no discretion on the part of the judge; that is the minimum sentence and it is automatic.
Second degree murder = all other murder other than first degree murder. A murder which is not planned but you still intend to kill someone, that is second degree murder. The sentencing ranges from life in jail with no parole for 10 years to 25 years until you are eligible for parole.
After the time is served in prison on a sentence for first or second degree murder, the person still reports to a parole officer for the rest of their life.
Manslaughter = the death of an individual while committing an illegal act. Though the person died, there was no intention to cause death. The sentencing options for manslaughter are very complicated because there is no minimum. You can get anything from probation (which is unlikely) to life in jail. Often individuals found guilty of manslaughter will serve medium range penitentiary terms, in the neighbourhood of 7 to 15 years.
On July 2, 2008, new provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada concerning impaired driving came into force. As a result, there are now nine distinct offences related to impaired driving in the Criminal Code of Canada. These offences are:
Operating a motor vehicle while the ability to do so is impaired by alcohol or a drug causing death: Min=$1,000 fine (1st offence), 30 days’ imprisonment (2ndoffence), 120 days’ imprisonment (subsequent offence) – Max= Life imprisonment
Operating a motor vehicle having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration of alcohol in the blood exceeds 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood causing death: Min=$1,000 fine (1st offence), 30 days’ imprisonment (2ndoffence), 120 days’ imprisonment (subsequent offence) – Max= Life imprisonment.
Now we have the background the question which was raised to me was:
Should drunk drivers who cause death be charged with manslaughter?
Tell me your thoughts, I’m interested. Would it make a difference?
Also worthy of consideration as Christmas approaches: By 2008, drinking and driving cases made up 12 per cent of all criminal charges, making it the largest single offence group. In 2008 it was estimated that 53,000 drinking and driving cases are heard every year in Canada. The conviction rate was 73 per cent, which exceeded the rate for all criminal convictions by 13 per cent.