Don’t let this happen to you…

Mamma K's car

A son mourns...

This is Scott – my beloved husband – crouched down looking over the car his beautiful mother was killed in when she was hit by a drunk driver!

His 16-year-old son Jordan was also in the car but thankfully was spared!

Please, don’t let this happen to you – don’t let this happen to another family – let us not witness another family or friend mourn the death of a loved one killed horrifically by a drunk driver.

Court case update: yesterday the judge in our case ruled that the blood analysis would NOT be admissible as evidence. He ruled that in his opinion, the police did not have reasonable probable grounds to suspect the driver was impaired – they only had grounds for suspicion.

Suspicion is like smelling alcohol on someone’s breath, which warrants a road side breathalyzer. Reasonable probable grounds is like someone falling down drunk, walking into stuff, slurring speech and although the guy who hit and killed my mother-in-law was doing some of that, the judge said it could have been attributed to the severity of the accident. What????

And it seems that the fact that the guy couldn’t physically blow into the breathalyzer machine (which we all suspect he was doing on purpose) according to the judge, is not grounds for drawing blood either. The only other medical reason cops can draw blood is if the victim had a broken jaw for example. Hmmmm…so this means I can just screw up and not blow into a breathalyzer properly, and on purpose, and there isn’t a darn thing anyone can do about it? Nice loop-hole I would say!

And, time lapsing does not constitute drawing blood either – so even though 3 hours had passed from the time of the accident to the time they tried to get a breath sample (had to wait for medical clearance), that didn’t warrant drawing blood either.

What is wrong with our justice system????

We were DEVASTATED to say the least since this was the crux of the Crown’s case. I cannot begin to express how crushed we were.

But in a turn of events, after a 45 minute recess, we found out that the Crown had also issued a search warrant for the driver’s medical blood – which was also analyzed by a lab. Yesterday, the blood analysis expert couldn’t testify to it because in her report, she blended the analysis of both blood samples. So we have adjourned until November to give the expert time to reissue her report with only analysis of the medical blood.

Once again, there is hope! What an emotional roller coaster ride to say the least!

I am sure there are many of you out there who have had this happen to you – how have you dealt with it? To my US readers, what kinds of laws and punishments do you have – are there the same insane loop holes? What else have you done to try to make a difference and end drunk driving?

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Call to action: help bring random breath testing to Canada

A little over a year ago, my life and the lives of my family, were forever changed when my mother-in-law was killed by a drunk driver. The accident occurred on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, around 2:30 in the afternoon, on a straight stretch of perfectly clear highway. Not what you might picture when you think of impaired driving accidents. A drunk and stoned driver, behind the wheel of a 1-ton work truck slammed into her 2-door sunfire literally tearing off the side of the car and killing her instantly!

And if can happen to me – it can happen to YOU!

Impaired driving is 100% preventable! Not one more person, not one more loved one, not one more human being has to die or suffer injuries from impaired driving – yet it continues to happen.

According to MADD Canada, every year impaired driving claims more than 1,200 lives and causes some 73,000 injuries. Impairment-related crashes continue to be the leading criminal cause of death in Canada. Millions of Canadians continue to drink and drive.

In 2010, how is this possible?

The problem with the current law is that it is not an effective deterrent for impaired driving. The likelihood of an impaired driver ever being stopped, let alone convicted (see my previous post on conviction rates) is extremely low.

MADD Canada, using survey, criminal charge and criminal conviction data from 2006, was able to determine that a person would have to drive impaired, on average once a week, every week, for more than three years before being charged with an impaired driving offence, and for over six years before ever being convicted.

What???

Okay, so what can  I do about it? Lots!

Right now, MADD Canada is calling on the federal government to move forward with the introduction of random breath testing.

Random breath testing is one of the most effective ways to deter impaired driving, thus reducing deaths and injuries. It has been studied and recommended by the Federal Justice Committee, its benefits are proven, and a recent poll indicates most Canadians would support it as a measure to reduce impaired driving.

It has been adopted in New Zealand, Australia, and most of European countries. And according to MADD Canada, it is a safe prediction that random breath testing would likely lower the rate of crash fatalities in the first year alone by around 20%.

In year one, 248 PEOPLE would be saved and 14,624 injuries prevented.

WHAT are we waiting for?

As well, according to MADD Canada, police currently spend more than $82 million on impairment-related crashes and non-crash impaired driving charges. With a 20% reduction in crashes and charges, the annual savings in police resources would be more than $16 million.

MADD Canada needs YOUR help to make this happen.

We need every single Canadian out there to contact your Member of Parliament. Encourage him or her to raise the issue with colleagues in Parliament and to ask Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to introduce random breath testing legislation.

If you’re mailing your letter, you can use the Parliament address in the template letter. And remember, no postage is required when mailing an MP at their Parliament address.

This important anti-impaired driving measure will save lives and prevent injuries by reducing impaired driving.

Make your voice heard!

For more information, visit MADD Canada at http://www.madd.ca.

Can cheating be chalked up to hormones?

A few weeks ago, I read an article in Women’s Health about why people cheat. Researchers are exploring how our hormones can flare up and cause a literal chemical reaction within our brain that they think actually makes it harder to say “no” and easier to say “ohhhhh yes…” playing a definite role in people’s choices. 

In relationships in the past, monogamy did not always come easy to me. I cheated for a number of reasons – I wanted an out, I was more interested in someone else, I was bored, and sometimes for no specific reason at all. And yes, I can most certainly say that there was an internal chemical and hormonal reaction that played a role making it difficult to say “no” once those lines started to get crossed and blurred. The pounding heart, the excitement, the anticipation, the thrill, the adrenaline – talk about a rush!

So can I chalk up my past indiscretions to chemicals, absolve myself of my guilt, and lay my choices at the feet of my hormones entirely?

Absolutely not! There are a number of ingredients that come into play when a person decides to cross over to the dark side. Hormones and chemicals are definitely part of the mix. An unhappy relationship; doesn’t help but I don’t think “causes” infidelity.

Honestly, I think the main reason people cheat is because they don’t think any better of themselves.

In the end, I cheated because I didn’t respect and love myself enough to know that I was worth better choices and decisions. It was a reflection of what I thought of myself rather than a reflection of the state of my relationship or the height of my hormones.

Now at 35, married for the second time, having been faithful for nearly six years, I can be sure that I won’t cheat again – not because I promised I wouldn’t, not because I am so in love with my husband (although I am), not because society says it’s wrong – I won’t ever cheat again because I know that I am worth so much more than that, because I believe I deserve better, and because nothing that makes me feel badly about myself is ever worth doing – no matter what the hormonal rush!

Why have you cheated in the past? Or what has stopped you from cheating? Do you think hormones can really take over entirely?

Having sex to young…

One of my favorite blogs, A Woman’s Page, recently posted “Isn’t She Too Young for Sex” about the prolific amount of sexual material in today’s media. I found the post to be timely and informative – I loved her suggestions about teaching safe sex in schools and especially loved the comment about how teaching kids about safe sex won’t inspire them to go out and have lots of it.

It was timely because a couple weeks ago I was watching a Dr. Phil episode on teenage girls having sex at 14 and 15. It struck me how casual and egotistic these young girls were about having sex at such a young age. I watched as Dr. Phil, his guests, and these girls’ parents preach to these two young girls about the perils of having sex so young (STDs, pregnancy, etc) and how their boyfriends were “playing” them to get them to have sex. Sadly, it was also clear that everything they were saying was going in one ear and out the other.

The other thing I saw…myself!

I grew up very knowledgeable about sex – my mother was very open and informative about it from a very young age. I never felt any sort of “taboo” about the subject. But all the knowledge in the world couldn’t save me from the peer pressure to have sex. In Grade 8 and 9, girls all around me were having sex and they were deemed cool. Having sex was about being liked, being cool, being “in”!

The pressure was overwhelming, and I was prime for the picking – though I had knowledge and information, I was crippled by low self-esteem. I was dying to be loved, to be liked, to be cool, and to feel worthy. It was more important than breathing. It wasn’t about respect, maturity, or “waiting until I was in love.” It was about feeling and being wanted and the price to pay was “sex”!

And you know what, it worked. That is the sad part. When I lost my virginity, suddenly I was cool, I was wanted, and I was liked. More guys wanted to date me and be my boyfriend, my “gang” of friends all thought I was cool, and I lived on that “high” for years. My sense of self, self-worth, and feeling of being “enough” was slowly but surely getting systematically wrapped up in men and sex. I couldn’t tell where I began or where my sense of self lived if I wasn’t with a man.

My late teens and early 20s were spent in a cycle of guy drama. Mid 20s I got married thinking that would finally do the trick and bring me a sense of self and worth that I was craving only to realize a few short years later that it wouldn’t. And then a painful divorce.

Losing my virginity just shy of 15 isn’t responsible for all my poor choices throughout my teenage and young adult years, but it set me on a course, a cycle, of sacrificing myself and my body in the name of a fleeting feeling of “worthiness” that turned out to be all smoke and mirrors.

It wasn’t until I was 30 years old, looking back on the wreckage of relationships left behind me that I clued in – the ticket to feeling worthy, good enough and wonderful was never going to be found in a relationship or in the bed of a man, it would only be found within myself! Something that perhaps most people take for granted as the simplest of concepts but one that I had missed entirely!

All this searching around, all this neediness, this obsessiveness for “the one,” the bending myself inside and out, being someone I wasn’t, pushing my needs aside, all in the name of feeling whole – all this time – the answer had been staring back at me in the mirror.

The love affair I needed to have was with myself – first!

Five years later and with an incredible amount of hard work, I am getting there more and more every day. I have finally learned how to love myself, embrace myself, and celebrate myself! After my divorce, I took a year to myself and truly discovered myself, my needs, and my wants. I fell in love with me – for the first time. I discovered a sense of self, self-worth and self-respect that I hadn’t known existed – hadn’t even known was possible. I found deep morals and beliefs, a strong character, and an empowered woman! I forgave myself for past transgressions and let go of the past. I renewed my commitment to myself as first and foremost and learned about my own personal boundaries and requirements. It has been an incredible journey!

So what do I think we need to do differently so that less young girls make the same poor choices I did?

I absolutely agree that less sexual content via the media would be a huge help. Portraying sex to young girls as cool, hip and trendy is flat-out wrong, deceptive, and is a disservice to our youth beyond measure. I also agree that teaching our young people about the importance of safe sex is critical in this day in age. This is no time to beat around the bush or withhold critical information to our young people – they need all the knowledge we can provide them.

But more importantly, I believe we need to teach our young people (and especially our young girls) to love themselves. To see themselves and their bodies as something to be adored, loved, treasured and respected – not because Mom and Dad say so, not because Dr. Phil says so – but because they believe it to be so within themselves! I wish each young person to know that having sex with someone may make you feel ‘good’ for a moment – but that truly loving yourself will make you feel ‘good’ for a lifetime!

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