NB toughens penalties for drunk drivers – what a joke!

Ok. Before I get into the big news, let’s do a recount of where things currently stand in New Brunswick:

  • 0.08 (80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood) is the legal limit.
  • The minimum mandatory sentence for an impaired driver charged under the Criminal Code is a fine of $1,150 and a mandatory one-year driving prohibition.
  • A level between .05 and .08 will get a driver a suspended license for 24 hours.
  • Recently, some judges in NB have begun issuing higher fines and even jail time (3 to 10 DAYS) for first offenders of impaired driving based on aggravating factors like elevated blood-alcohol readings and dangerous driving.
  • There are no set minimum sentences for multiple impaired driving offenders.
  • There is no minimum sentence for impaired driving causing bodily injury or impaired driving causing death.
  • The maximum sentence for impaired driving causing bodily harm is 10 year imprisonment and for impaired driving causing death its life imprisonment. However provincial court judges are BOUND to sentence in accordance with precedents set by their respective province’s highest court. In New Brunswick, that is the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, which has set a precedent of three years imprisonment for impaired driving causing death.

So…now for the big, fall-off-your-chair news on how my glorious province, New Brunswick, is setting the trend for Canada with tougher penalties for drunk drivers…hold onto your hats…here it is:

As of June 24, 2011, drivers who blow between .05 and .08 will receive a week-long suspended license (increased from a 24-hour suspension).

WOW <<being sarcastic here>>!!!

Wait, it gets better. The registrar of the motor vehicle would not be informed of the suspension, and the information would not be recorded on the driver’s abstract, however records of short-term suspensions will be kept by local police forces. Meaning, if a guy is driving his wife’s car and he gets stopped, blows .06, his license would be suspended for seven days but his wife, as the owner of the vehicle, would never be notified nor would his insurance company nor would that be considered a first offense if he were say charged with a more serious impaired driving crime later.

And I agree…of course it wouldn’t be recorded or the registrar notified; essentially, the person wouldn’t have technically BROKEN any laws considering that the legal limit is .08 and over.

I mean, I am not a total moron. I can see the “intention” behind this law to deter those from having those extra few casual drinks, perhaps it’ll serve to catch and deter those who are more “relaxed” with their ideas around impaired driving etc. And I agree, it’s a “step” in the right direction but COME ON; it’s not nearly enough and, in my opinion, it certainly doesn’t quality as “toughen penalties” for drunk drivers. These drivers aren’t what we consider legally drunk!!! The entire thing falls flat for me!

More honestly, I feel like it targets those people who are just having one or two beers with dinner; those who are trying to be responsible; those who aren’t out there driving hammered and causing accidents resulting in bodily harm or death. Let’s be honest, the people at .05 to .08 aren’t the ones passing out at the wheel or veering all over the road.

Add to that, why are we punishing people who are not actually BREAKING the law. I mean, .08 is the “legal” limit…so…if we want to start targeting people with a limit between .05 and .08 shouldn’t we just lower the legal limit to .05? Or better yet, how about zero tolerance?

I don’t get it. This isn’t a “crack down” on drunk driving. It feels more like a “won’t-piss-anyone-off/make-the-current-government-look-like-it’s-doing-something-when-it’s-really-doing-nothing” kind of move that they expect to garner them much love and appreciation. Well not from this camp!

When I think of the time, energy, and money invested to implement this one relatively meaningless tactic, it saddens and disgusts me. And to anyone who’s lost someone to impaired driving, and gone through the joke of a justice system, this is almost a slap in the face. Let’s stop wasting time and get on really toughening up laws that could see real change!

As usual, I am left asking myself, when is my provincial and/or federal government going to take impaired driving and the injuries and loss of life seriously? Right now, impaired driving causing death is the LEADING cause of criminal death in our country (nearly doubling our homicide rates). Right now, 4 Canadians every single day die in an impaired driving related accident – 4 people every day die at the hands of a drunk driver! When is that going to sink in? When is our government going to realize that driving is a PRIVILEGE and not a right and that they have a responsibility to ensure our roads are safe!

I did read in the Daily Gleaner newspaper article (link below) that our Minister of Public Safety is going to be having “discussions with stakeholders later this year on reviewing the province’s rules on drunk driving.” I’ll have to find out how to get in on those discussions.

What do you think? Is the NB government really getting tough on drunk driving?

For more information: check out the NB toughens penalties for drunk drivers PDF of the news article as it appeared in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner on Saturday May 28, 2011.

And be sure to read the Making drunk drivers pay PDF. It’s a great news article my sister-in-law was involved with on the need for tougher legislation. It appeared in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal on May 27, 2011.

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Dear blog…it never ceases to amaze me how a book can take you back!

Last week I started reading Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever, the first book in her Fever Series. It’s the story of a woman, MacKayla (Mac) Lane, a typical 22-year-old whose life is turned upside down after her sister is brutally murdered in Ireland. On a course for revenge, Mac discovers an entirely new world where good and evil wear the same seductive mask. She is sucked into this extraordinary world filled with ancient secrets, vampires, assorted Fae nasties and other tough-to-kill beings where she must learn how to survive and handle a power she had no idea she possessed.

Having just finished the Sookie Stackhouse series, by Charlaine Harris, something “urban fantasy” was still on my reading palate. Funny though because when I found this book in my “waiting to be read” folder on the Kindle, I couldn’t remember how I’d come to download it. When I started reading it and about the world of the Fae, I was a bit confused but I was very pleasantly surprised when my confusion was quickly replaced by a thirst to read more. And I wasn’t disappointed. I loved it. I started it early last week and finished it this weekend. I devoured it. The book, the writing, the storyline, and the plot had me hook line and sinker. I came home from a long weekend at the camp with book one under my belt and ordered up book 2, Bloodfever and I can’t wait to get started.

Throughout the book, there were these poignant and astoundingly profound snippets that struck me; little nuggets of life wisdom that I am sure the writer drew from personal experience and wove into the story beautifully. And, capitalizing on one of my Kindle’s fahhhbulous features, I was able to highlight each one for my own quick reference. And these beautiful pieces of prose were already captured by others because readers can highlight passages on the Amazon Kindle and, if they choose, when they sync with their Amazon Kindle account, they get shared with Amazon. So cool!

I wanted to share one such prose with you:

“One must break with one’s past to embrace one’s future. It is never an easy thing to do. It is one of the distinguishing characteristics between survivors and victims. Letting go of what was to survive what is.”

This spoke to me deeply. I remember that for years I allowed myself to feel broken inside, damaged, and unworthy. I allowed myself to cast myself in that light and taint all my decisions with it. I allowed myself to make unhealthy decisions, poor choices, and to be disrespected and mistreated. I not only allowed it….I enabled it! By choosing to trap myself in the image of who I was, bad choices I made, nasty names I was called, I bought into my shamefulness and felt destined to always be that person. It was a self-fulfilling prophesy.

I remember the day I broke away from my past to embrace my future. I remember the turning point as if it was yesterday. I mean, up until this point I had already undergone years of intense weekly therapy; there was nothing another shrink could teach me – the final lesson was all on me. And it was like a light bulb of clarity went off! I was 29 years old and I called my mother and I said:

“You know what, I don’t need any more Goddamn therapy…I am HEALTHY! I have made the decision that I am reasonable, that I like myself; I embrace myself and all that I am. I respect me and I love me! I am enough and what I want is absolutely ok. I don’t have to change to be loved. I don’t have to fit into anyone’s box. And anyone who doesn’t agree or like what I got…fuck them!”

That was the day I broke away from my past to embrace my future. It wasn’t an easy thing to do because believing in yourself and building yourself up can often be much harder than believe in all the bad and/or not trusting yourself. But it’s that inner belief in myself that distinguished me from being a continual victim of my own demise to not just being a survivor…but being someone who thrived within my own happiness! I let go of who I had been, the choices I had made, the chains I had bound to myself and I forgave myself. I let it be a part of who I was, where I had come from and acknowledged the role everything had played in bringing me to this place; I gave it an honored place of respect but not a place of definition! I gave myself a fresh, blank slate coupled with trust and confidence in myself and the total embrace of everything that made me…ME! Maybe I wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I was certainly my own and that…was enough for me!

On that day, when my inner world changed so dramatically, my outer world altered just as dramatically.

How have you let go of the past to embrace the future and how has that changed your life?

Stay tuned for other great snippets to be shared…

Dear blog…no more home phone, Internet, and extensive channel line up…is the world ending?

So….we have decided to cut our satellite package back to basic and disconnect our home phone and Internet. I know…I know, I can almost hear you all now “NO INTERNET AT HOME???” I feel you!!!

As we make this radical move and the anxiety builds, I ask myself, how will I survive?

We are paying $135/month for our Satellite package which gave us six theme packages; around $85/month for our home phone and Internet; and $130/month for two Smartphones. So, we are dishing out about $350 a month for entertainment.

That’s insane! That’s more than my car payment was. When I sat down and looked at it, my mind was boggled. Do we need all that? Do we USE all that? Honestly, there’s only one way to really find out effectively what matters most to us, take it all away and see where it hurts!

I started with Satellite and upon review, realized that out of the six packages we are paying for, we really only watch three channels, and sporadically at best. Could we live without those few shows? Could we live with less television options as a whole? I think so! More and more I am realizing the affliction and addiction most of us have with mindless television that takes us away from connecting with our family and being more active. To be honest, I contemplated getting rid of the entire system but I think that would have created a mutiny in my house! Regardless, I think less TV is a good thing! Ok – I don’t think that part will hurt much although I’ll definitely miss my HGTV and Say Yes to the Dress!

Then to the phone. We NEVER use it! It’s a land line so it’s definitely more comfortable to talk on then a blackberry but regardless, we might make or receive five or ten calls a month, which could easily be transferred over to our Smartphones. And there are tons of expensive gadgets I can get to increase my comfort when talking on it! Done. No brainer! I don’t think I’ll miss it a bit!

Since the phone is part of a “bundle” with Internet, to really get a savings, we gotta lose both. With Internet access at work, which is 15 minutes away and with both of us using our Smartphones to access social sites and lite Internet browsing like the weather or the movies at home, there doesn’t seem to be much point to shelling out $60/month for Internet. Couldn’t I write my blog posts at home and post them at lunch or on a break at work? Couldn’t we just “work around it” and manage? I think so but I gotta be honest, out of everything, cutting the Internet is the one thing I worry about missing most! But I do think that cutting it and then seeing how tough it is will help us determine if it’s a worthwhile expense or not.

So that will bring our monthly entertainment access bill down to $219/month, saving us $130 a month or $1560 a year. When you put it like that – it definitely has punch!

Around $200 a month is a little more reasonable but sometimes when I think about the deals and rates my neighboring American’s can get for Smartphones, Internet, Satellite and home phone, it really gets my blood boiling. Lack of competition and total market ownership seem to put us paying a lot more for the same connectivity!

How much connectivity and entertainment options do you have at home? How much do you think is reasonable to spend on all of that stuff? Is being a fully Internet connected home a ‘must have’ these days?

Maybe it’ll be pain-free, maybe not – I will definitely keep you posted!

Dear blog…I can’t believe I took over a month off…I’ve missed you!

What can I say, I went on vacation and when I came back, I just sort of stayed on vacation. We went to Punta Cana for the last two weeks of April and had a great trip! We stayed at the Barceló Punta Cana. Although the resort itself (rooms etc) was not as luxurious as last year’s NH Real Arena, to us, it was still perfect. Before we left, the reviews on the resort we pretty harsh so I was very nervous but I think with realistic expectations and an attitude of relaxation, you can’t go wrong.

Here’s my quick take on it:

Beach: Stunning, clean, soft, white sand, clear water, no seaweed (at NH there was tons), and lots of lounge chairs, which were tidied up each night. You never had to fight for chairs at this resort. The resort is laid out like a long S so it has a huge beach frontage. The beach was also very wavy which made for tons of fun in the water.

Food: The a la carte’s were incredible – everything was delicious. The breakfast and lunch buffets were fantastic as well. The dinner buffet was ok – it could have been better but it was still good.

Room: We stayed in a non-renovated room but did pay for ocean view. It wasn’t luxurious. I’d categorize it as standard. It was clean and spacious but was not the fanciest or up-to-date. The shower was difficult to find a good temperature and water pressure (typical for Dominican resorts as a whole). But, we slept fine and had no issues. The AC worked and the mini bar was stocked every day. The balcony was stunning. We honestly felt like we got what we paid for and were very happy with it.

We had a friend who traveled with us who did stay in an upgraded (renovated) room (which cost about $450 US/per week more). The differences were he had marble floor; we had tile. He had a pillow top mattress; our’s was spring mattress. He had a gorgeous, fluffy white duvet; we had 1970s bedding. He had a fully renovated bathroom with gorgeous tile shower; we had a bathroom that was plain and basic. His closet was done in chocolate wooden doors; ours were glass mirror sliding doors. He had a flat screen TV mounted to the wall; we had an older tube TV.

For us, seeing both rooms, we were happy we didn’t undertake the expense of $900 US to upgrade for two weeks. Besides, you don’t spend a whole pile of time in your room anyway. We had a gorgeous view and a clean room – we were happy!

Pools & Stuff: Very clean, nice and big, but only one had a swim-up bar. Amazing kids pool area. They also had a trapeze, trampoline and rock wall for people of any age to enjoy.

Staff: They were very friendly, always smiling, and always cheerful. Most staff spoke some English. We did find the staff at NH a bit friendlier but considering there was such an international attendance at this resort, I wasn’t surprised they were a bit more reserved.

Bars & Nightlife: There were a few different ones and all were very nice. The disco was awesome and well air-conditioned. The theatre was INCREDIBLE. It was huge with seating at all different levels so no matter where you sat, you could see. It had comfy wicker furniture with plenty of tables and chairs. And all the shows were fantastic. They had a Michael Jackson show that knocked our socks off!

Excursions: This year we didn’t do any excursions but we did check them out and they had everything from snorkeling, to spa treatments, to helicopter rides that all looked affordable. Anyone we talked to who went on something said that everything was always on time and smooth.

We would definitely recommend this resort but I think given that not all the rooms are renovated, you need to go with realistic expectations. It’s a 3.5 to 4 star resort.

This was the most relaxation trip I’ve ever been on. We would get up in the morning around 7:30 and get ready for breakfast. We were usually on the beach or by the pool around 9ish for laying in the sun, napping, or reading under a palm tree. Lunch was usually around 1ish and then it was back to the beach for more of the same. Usually around 4 pm we’d head back to our room to shower and have a little nap before dinner at 7 pm. After dinner, we’d usually sit in one of the huge lobby bars and have a few drinks before the entertainment at 9:30. We were normally in bed around 11 pm. Some evenings we’d skip the show and just head back to the room to enjoy a glass of champagne on the patio. Or we’d go out dancing late into the night.

I came back feeling well rested and rejuvenated. Unfortunately for me however, I came down with the cold from hell about two days after my return and spent over a week in bed recovering.

Now, to get back in the swing of blogging! Stay tuned…

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