Slack sentences for drunk drivers

With the recent news of a slight increase of 15 months to convicted drunk driver Chad Olsen’s sentence, it makes one wonder how people can get away with such serious criminal offences.

Olsen was sentenced to two years this past April after he pleaded guilty to two counts of impaired driving causing death. Brad and Krista Howe were killed on Feb. 7, 2010 at about 2 a.m. after the truck that Olsen was driving slammed into them at the intersection of Ironstone Dr. and 30 Ave.

Brad and Krista were pronounced dead on the scene and Olsen was taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. His blood alcohol level was found to have been three times over the legal limit.

RCMP investigation determined that Olsen ran a red light and was going at least 85 km/hr on 30th Ave. which has a posted speed limit of 60 km/hr.

It was a shock that Olsen landed only two years for being responsible for the deaths of two people, not to mention the fact the couple left behind five young children.

There was a bit of hope his punishment would significantly increase when Alberta Justice appealed his two-year sentence last week. While the Crown only asked for an additional 15 months, it still wasn’t even close to the punishment Olsen should get.

Why on earth are these offences taken so lightly? Families endure the loss of loved ones at the hands of those who willingly get behind the wheel drunk. It’s unfathomable these people are basically getting away with murder.

Even with an extended sentence, once Olsen, 24, is released he still has his whole life ahead of him.

We often hear that tackling the issue of drunk driving is about education. But really, is it not more about common sense? What is so difficult about understanding that you cannot drink and drive. It’s simple. No amount of education is going to drill that fact into someone’s skull who is just going to do it anyway.

Stiffer penalties are critical – a minimum of 10 years in prison would be a start. We also hear that longer sentences aren’t a deterrent, but is that really true?

If Olsen had known very harsh penalties could result from his actions, would it have caused him to think twice? Maybe not, but it could change the minds of others.

There has to be change, and soon. Drunk driving is showing no signs of decreasing. Here in Red Deer on Oct. 21 for example, RCMP conducted a checkstop and nabbed eight impaired drivers. It might not seem like a high number, but consider the carnage those drivers could have caused.

It’s time to get tough.