The face of Families for Justice, Markita Kaulius, is concerned for the safety of everyone on Canada’s roads after the Liberal federal government voted down a proposal to change the criminal charge of impaired driving causing death to vehicular homicide.
“I want people to realize that a vehicle is a 2,000-pound weapon. It will destroy someone.
When the driver accelerated to 103 km/hr, became airborne and slammed into the driver’s side of my daughter Kassandra’s car, the injuries she sustained were unfathomable.
“You are shattered from head to toe,” she said.
Kaulius has been fighting for tougher laws and sentencing surrounding impaired driving ever since her daughter was killed by a drunk driver in Surrey in 2011.
In September, Markita flew to Ottawa to present to the Justice Committee on why the Criminal Code needs to change. It was her fourth trip to Canada’s capital.
“This would cover future cases where deaths occur by drivers who are impaired by alcohol/drugs or both.”
She warns of the loss of life to come when marijuana becomes legalized July 1, 2018.
“We know with the legalization of marijuana in 2018 there will be more impaired driving deaths as proven in both Colorado and Washington State after the legalization of marijuana,” she said.
“In Colorado, the number of drivers in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana without other drugs in their system tripled between 2005 and 2014 from 3.4 per cent to 12.1 per cent.
“In Washington State, fatal crashes among drivers who tested positive for marijuana has risen 122 per cent between 2010 and 2014.”
She said one of the reasons the Liberals turned down ‘vehicular homicide’ is because “vehicular” doesn’t take into account other modes of transportation, including “trains and snowmobiles, I kid you not, that’s what they said.”
She then asked that a five-year minimum mandatory sentence be handed down to anyone convicted of impaired driving causing a death.
“The Liberal government doesn’t believe in minimum mandatory sentences,” she said. “I think after showing the statistics and how impaired driving is still the top reason for deaths, it says to me that the Liberal government doesn’t care about public safety,” she said.
But as discouraged as she is, she said she won’t go away.
“I’m a mother on a mission,” she quipped.
To that end, she is urging the public to sign a new e-petition.
On Oct. 20, Alberta justice critic MP Michael Cooper announced the e-petition encouraging Canadians to add their voice to let the government know they support tougher sentencing laws in impaired driving cases.
Even with a five-year sentence, they would most likely only serve 10 to 12 months, said Kaulius.
“It would be better than some of the previous sentences we have seen before, such as one day in jail, a $100 fine, a $1,500 fine, seven weekends in jail, 90 days to be served on weekends only, seven months served out of a three year sentence for killing four young people,” said Kaulius.