Is driving stoned as bad as driving drunk? Apparently, not in Canada!

I was deeply saddened by a recent news story about the acquittal of a Saskatchewan driver on impaired driving charges – even after she admitted to smoking pot 2.5 hours prior and failed coordination tests. The judge said that while the prosecutor was able to prove that there was marijuana in her system, he failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the pot actually impaired her ability to operate a vehicle.

And this isn’t the first case where a pot user has been acquitted of impaired driving. There have been similar acquittals in other jurisdictions.

In our own personal impaired driving story we ran into the same issue. The blood analysis showed that the driver who killed Mamma K had marijuana in his system. Score, right? To me, it should have been a done deal right there. But nope. The prosecutor told us that the marijuana wouldn’t be taken into account because there is no way (yet) to PROVE that the pot impaired his driving.

Seems to me Canada’s drug-impaired driving laws, which were introduced in 2008, need their own overhaul. According to the news story, MADD Canada representatives and advocates are calling on federal lawmakers to adopt drug-intake thresholds similar to the 0.08 blood-alcohol limit which would thereby remove some of the subjectivity contained in Canada’s drug-impaired driving laws.

Yeah think?!?!

I guess there are many jurisdictions in the United States, Western Europe and Australia that have already adopted such standards. Perhaps we should follow their responsible lead?

The best part of the article (or at least most laughable) was the comment by a spokesman for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson who said “Our government takes impaired driving very seriously. This is why we increased the penalties for impaired driving while giving police new tools to better investigate drug-impaired driving.” (Source: Canada.com news story)

Barf! Seriously?!?!?!

As you know from my emails with Minister Nicholson’s office (mine to himhis response to me…5 months latermy heated rebuttal NOTE: these links all open as PDFs), his comment falls on deaf ears from me.

First of all, we didn’t only need increased penalties for impaired drivers…we needed MINIMUM sentences as well. What’s the point of increasing maximums when they are NEVER used??? Just to “look” good???

Second of all, better tools for police to investigate drug-impaired driving are rendered USELESS if violations can’t be ENFORCED?! DUH! You need both the laws and the teeth to uphold it. Otherwise, what’s the point.

I find it so frustrating when I read comments such as that because it does not speak to how much this government is doing. It speaks to how much this government wants to LOOK like its doing. But in reality, it only showcases how OUT OF TOUCH the government is on what the real issues are, how Canadians are being affected and what impactful solutions need to be implemented.

What needs to happen for our Government to stand up, take notice and make real change? How many more innocent people have to die or be injured? I’m at a loss.

What do you think? Do you think driving stoned is as bad as driving drunk? How can we identify an appropriate impaired level for driving under the influence of drugs? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

On August 1, 2009, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:

  • I am so pumped. I just downloaded Evernote and then came across Kristin Nador’s post on using Evernote to increase your blogging productivity – fabulous tips and tricks. I am so excited to get started!
  • Jenny Hansen started it. Now I want me a QR code of my own! Got yours?
  • Very interesting post by Nathan Bransford who thinks you should NOT send your Tweets to Facebook. What do you think? I am not so sure because I have found a number of fabulous blog posts etc this way so it’s not a deterrent for me. Join him in the comments for discussion.
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Campaign 911 works | ATMs raise funds for MADD Canada

Hubby and I are off on a little impromptu vacation today. We left Wednesday evening to jet set to beach/cottage country for a couple of days of fun in the sun. That being said, I wanted to tell you about two uberlicious impaired driving initiatives that totally tickle my fancy!

Campaign 911

You’ve heard me talk about MADD Canada’s 911 campaign here. This is a Canada-wide initiative where you…yes you…are encourage to call 911 if you suspect someone is driving (car, truck, boat, ATV) impaired. But does it work?

Well CBC News issued a news report on Tuesday about the uberlicious success the program is having in just ONE Canadian city; Halifax. Police in that city say that they charge around 60 people PER MONTH with impaired driving and that about 35% of those charges are a result of citizen calling in complaints.

Isn’t that amazing?!?!! 35%!

LOVE IT!

Keep up the great work fine citizen and I encourage anyone and everyone to take part if need be. You can find MADD Canada’s 10 possible signs of an impaired driver here.

Note: you don’t need to worry about the cell phone ban when calling in to report a suspected impaired driver because you are exempt from the ban when you are calling 911!

ATM raise funds for MADD Canada

The StarPhoenix reported that 2 liquor stores in Regina, Saskatchewan are kicking off a new pilot project this past week that will help raise funds for MADD Canada. If you get cash out from the ATMs installed at the South Albert and North Albert liquor stores, the .99 cent fee will go to MADD Canada (reportedly one of the cheapest fees within Canada).

Of those .99 cents, MADD Canada will donate .9 cents to Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) in Saskatchewan, which will help fund its programs. The other .90 cents will go towards MADD Canada’s many programs including school assembly programs, advertising, and the report impaired drivers campaign in that province.

Even BETTER is that this pilot project follows the lead of 2 others in Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.

Here’s to all our Canadian provinces and USA states getting on board with this uberlicious initiative. Total win-win!

Even though hubby and I are off and about playing in the sand and soaking up some sun, feel free to comment. Your support, thoughts and words mean the world to us and we’ll catch up with y’all on Sunday upon our return.

Would you considering calling 911 if you suspected someone to be impaired driving? What if it was a friend or someone you knew? What do you think of the ATM program? Know of any other great fundraising initiatives?

On August 1, 2009, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:

How do you sum up the loss of a loved one?

This is the roadside memorial cross that hubby built and installed on the one-year anniversary of the death of his Mom.

This coming week, our impaired driving story takes yet again another turn.

Trent, the man convicted of impaired driving causing the death of hubby’s Mom (Mamma K), is up for parole on July 4, 2012 at 9 am.

Hubby, myself, the Dude and many other family members will be driving to the Westmorland Institution, the minimum-security, campus-style complex that has been Trent’s home since his sentencing on April 5, 2011 to watch Trent face the music and ask for his freedom. If granted (which it’s quite likely it will be) Trent will have only served 456 days in jail for getting drunk and stoned and stealing a woman’s life. How’s that for fair? It’s simply not.

The parole board will receive copies of all the victim impact statements that were issued to the court for consideration at Trent’s original sentencing. You can read mine, hubby’s and the Dude’s here.

Hubby decided to write a new victim impact statement which he will read aloud to the parole board on July 4. When I read it, I cried. He pours out his heart, soul, and you can actually feel the impact and depth of his loss. He…the incredible man that he is…gave me permission to share it with you today.

About Donna Kennie, My Mother, My Friend, My Memory

Before Trent Mallet’s choice to consume alcohol and smoke marijuana and drive a ¾ ton missile toward East Saint John and navigate it across the yellow line, thereby tearing my mother and her car literally in two and leaving my son injured and emotionally scarred for life…my mother was many thing to many people.

I could tell you the usual attributes of someone who was taken from this world too soon by another’s hand:

  • She was a daughter, mother, grandmother, colleague and friend.
  • She was a very kind-hearted woman.
  • She was full of life.
  • She was always smiling and the first person to enjoy life with a good laugh.
  • She was always the first person to extend a helping hand to those that needed it.
  • She was passionate for adventure, animals, camping, travel, and gardening and just life in general.

She was more than a handful of attributes and actions. She was the love and support system for so many people, a selfless woman who always gave more of herself than she could often afford to give financially or physically. She was my Mom!

She was!!

Not words anyone wants to use to describe their mother but they are the words I’ve been left with since Aug 1st, 2009.

On that date, she was returning to a family reunion/camping trip at her daughter’s property in St. Martins where she drove almost 100km to Quispamsis get supplies such as tent pegs, mini sips, and campfire snacks for her six grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Then with Trent Mallet’s act of impaired driving and an explosion of plastic, metal and flesh, my 16-year-old son got to watch his grandmother, with all of her devastating injuries, take her last breath and die right in front of him.

For all that she was – as a result of the actions/decisions/choices of Trent Mallet – she is now just a set of pictures that I’ve memorized from staring at them so frequently, an old email that I’ve read a thousand times to hear the tone of her voice in my head, a dial-tone in my ear from a phone I’ve picked up countless time as I thought to myself “I should give Mom a call…”.

Her presence in our lives now consists of a metal container of ashes that sits in my office next to a picture that we take to special events/places that she would have liked. A grave plot to visit on Mother’s Day, Christmas, and her birthday! She lives on in endless stories around the dinner tables, family functions and late night campfires and a million “she would have’s” – but the truth of it all is she’s gone – nothing but a memory now

Emotional impact since Trent’s sentencing:

  • First I would like to point out that Trent Mallet plead not guilty to impaired driving causing death – we now know this plea was ruled false by the court. It took 20 months, over 12 court dates to determine that Trent was guilty – all the while the family was forced to relive the loss, the pain, the anger, and the frustration at each court date – all of which Trent chose to prolong with his not guilty plea. A remorseful individual would have wanted to pay his debt and to not cause the victim’s family more pain and suffering, especially knowing that children were involved. I’d ask this be taken into consideration for his FIRST parole board hearing.
  • It is going on 3 years and not having my mother in my life has changed me as a person. I suffer bouts of depression. I suffer problems sleeping. I’ve gained 50lbs since my mother’s death. My overall level of happiness has been depleted. It has affected my relationships with my son, my wife, other family members and friends. I used to be more happy and carefree and it has been replaced with an underlying deep pain, sadness and seriousness. I now have crankiness, a shortness, and/or very low tolerance with people who I never had before. I feel like Trent not only killed my mother but killed a piece of me and everyone in our family – a piece that cannot be repaired or replaced.
  • Family functions that were based around my mother no longer take place. She was the glue in this family that brought everyone together. She still brings the family together but now she brings us together at MADD Canada fundraisers and Candlelight Vigils.
  • Mother’s Days are the worst day of the year now. Cards, commercials, store flyers and then the hardest part of all – trying to celebrate with my wife and her Mother – all the while every moment tearing at my insides as I’m reminded what I cannot experience with my own Mother.
  • I built and installed my own mother’s roadside memorial – need I say more.
  • I cannot concentrate at work, my head gets clouded with emotions about my mother, my son, Trent, the crash, how she died, how she felt, etc. To the point where it has cost me poor performance evaluations/promotions.
  • I’ve watched the pain and suffering of my son, nieces and nephews endure with the absence of their grandmother in their lives. Helping small kids work through their issues of grief, anger and loss has been torture and we’ve all felt helpless.
  • It’s hard to describe the ripple effect Trent Mallet’s decision to drive impaired has had. He didn’t just kill my mother and injure my son – he has changed the lives of hundreds of people he can’t even imagine.
  • I am currently serving a life sentence for a crime I did not commit; a crime that claimed my mother and injured my son physically but more importantly – emotionally forever!

Conclusion:

On Aug 1, 2009, the world could have lived with one less person but it shouldn’t have been my mother!

I waited 1069 days for Trent to take responsibility; to own what he did; to look the family in the eye and say “I did this to your family, it wasn’t just 3 beers and the world’s smallest joint. I was drunk, impaired and I killed your mother and narrowly missed killing your son”. If he cannot say this and take responsibility then he’s not ready for society and society is not ready for Trent Mallet.

It’s time for action to be taken to put a stop to impaired driving. It’s time for society to stand up and demand that our roads be as safe as possible. It’s time to set an example and send a message that “people are not going to be mowed down on our roads!”

My Mother’s last words were “what’s this guy…??”  Today I hope the answer to this question isn’t “Free to go!!

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Hubby and I share this with you not so you will feel sorry for hubby (or any of us for that matter). We share it as a message of hope, awareness and prevention. We share so that you can put a face and real consequences to impaired driving. We share it so that if anyone reading this blog has ever driven impaired or gotten in a vehicle with someone who was impaired, that you will think twice next time and realize that it’s simply NOT worth the risk.

It’s not worth being the person that tears a family apart just to save a couple bucks on a cab.

What would you say to someone asking for parole after killing your mother/daughter/father/brother? How would you convince a parole board to deny parole? Or do you believe parole is an important part of the criminal justice system to bridge between incarceration and the return to the community? I’d love to hear your thoughts?

On August 1, 2009, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:

Reaching teens through powerful messages from their peers

One of MADD Canada’s most uberlicious awareness programs is their School Assembly Program. This program tackles the problem of impaired driving among the age group which is most at risk.

According to MADD Canada, road crashes continue to be the number one cause of death among young people in Canada and alcohol is a factor in nearly 45% of those crashes. Can you imagine? Those stats make me so sad.

This year’s School Assembly Program, entitled Damages, was delivered to more than 1 million students in Grades 7 through 12 across Canada. How freaking fantastic is that! Check out this highlight of Damages. It brought tears to my eyes. Wow.

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MADD Canada does everything it can to make their school assembly program speak to their target audience. They show the video on a giant screen with a powerful sound system and they use stories and people in the same age range. In this way, the program presents students with solid information and best practices in a style that will help them understand the issue of alcohol and/or drug impaired driving in the language they speak.

And in exciting news, The Dude will be a part of this coming year’s School Assembly Program, entitled MADD Long Weekend. MADD Canada flew a whole crew down to Freddy Beach (our nickname for Fredericton) and they spent an entire afternoon at our home taking video of him sharing his story of impaired driving.

I can only imagine how difficult it was for him to sit, facing a camera talking openly with strangers about what it was like to be in a 2-door sunfire with his grandmother when they were suddenly struck by a drunk driver behind the wheel of a 1-ton truck. One moment they were driving along, heading back to a family reunion on a gorgeous, sunny afternoon talking and laughing…and the next…his life was changed forever as he watched his grandmother take her last breath and die before his eyes. At 16 years old.

Imagine the courage it took to share this story?!?! Wow. I am not sure if I’d have the stones.

But he did it. He spent hours and hours with this team of individuals who work tirelessly to stop impaired driving telling his story over and over again. Painful but all in the hopes of reaching his peers and saving lives.

We’ve never been so proud. We’ve never respect him more. What a young man he is growing into.

How do your kids knock your socks off? How do you think we can reach young people to get them to stop drinking and driving?

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:

The Keys tells the story of a girl who drinks and drives…and dies

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver. In honor of Donna Jean Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

So last Friday I talked about Sara G and how she’s putting her vocal talents to work for MADD Canada with a fantastic PSA (thank you Sara – you rock). This week, I came across more musical talent working the airwaves for MADD Canada.

Meet Danica Danielsen. She’s an 18-year-old Canadian country music artist with a soulful voice that will make you pause and take notice. Her song, The Keys, tells an incredibly powerful story about a girl who drinks, drives and dies. The song is sang from a first-person perspective as she looks down at her funeral and all the sorrow she has caused…and her regrets!

My heart jumped into my throat and tears welled up towards the end with some powerful lyrics about her mother’s pleas. Wowzers!

Not to mention, Danica is donating a portion of her sales of The Keys to MADD Canada. Woot woot!

I hope you’ll take the time to visit her website Danica Danielsen and have a listen to The Keys and consider hitting iTunes to support this wonderful artist and MADD Canada.

How did the song and lyrics make you feel as you listened to it? Do you think songs with lyrics like The Keys are a powerful way to create awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving? Do you think they reach a different target audience or perhaps speak to a specific target audience more effectively than perhaps other forms of traditional media?

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

If you enjoyed this post, check out more blog deliciousness here:

Former beauty queen sings for MADD Canada

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver. In honor of Donna Jean Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

In 2007, Sara G was crowned Miss World Canada.

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Sara G blew the judges and audience away with her amazing voice; winning the talent segment and ultimately taking home the crown. At age seventeen, she was the youngest female in Canadian history to win the country’s oldest and most prestigious pageant.

Well, y’all know I have a serious love for all things pageant. So I’d admire Sara G just for kicking pageant butt but then she stepped it up a notch on my admiration scale. In early December, she partnered with MADD Canada and put her singing talents to work to create an amazing public service announcement.

Check it out:

How uberlicious is that?!?!

I hope you’ll take the time to visit her website and other music at Sara G Music.

What do you think of artists who put their talents towards raising awareness around important social causes? Know any you’d like to give a shout out to?

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), and on the Web.

If you enjoyed this post, check out more blog deliciousness here:

Did you know, YOU can report drunk drivers?

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver. In honor of Donna Jean Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

We all know that impaired driving is 100% preventable. But did you know that each and every one of us can play a significant role in eliminating impaired driving? We can….by taking it upon ourselves to call 911 anytime we suspect an impaired driver is on the road. I knew that conceptually but didn’t really get it…until I read this article by Jim Kenzie. He interviewed Arn Kashino on how to report a drunk driver and Arn’s words blew me away!

“But I witnessed a woman bleed to death when hit by a drunk driver, and I’d rather make the 911 call and be wrong than give another drunk driver a chance to kill someone else.”
Arn Kashino

Wow!

There have been times when hubby and I have suspected an impaired driver in front of us but have hesitated reporting it because A) we weren’t 100% sure and B) we didn’t want this person to be stopped unnecessarily. No one wants to purposely cause someone to be detained for no reason nor do we want to waste police officers’ valuable time.

MADD Canada Campaign 911

MADD Canada’s Campaign 911 is a year-round, Canada-wide campaign that encourages and empowers the Canadian public to report suspected impaired driving by calling 911. According to MADD Canada, effective 911 programs have been found to increase arrest rates for impaired drivers by an average of 30%.

I’ve known about MADD Canada’s Campaign 911 for while now but until I read Jim’s article, I didn’t realize how vigilant I could be; what a strong role I could personally play in reducing impaired driving. I don’t have to be 100% sure. The person doesn’t have to be swerving right off the road. If I even SUSPECT someone is impaired, I’m encouraged to call and report it.

Arn’s point is so true! When it comes to impaired driving, it is better to be safe than sorry because lives are at stake.

Here are MADD Canada’s 10 possible signs of an impaired driver:

  1. Driving unreasonably fast, slow or at an inconsistent speed
  2. Drifting in and out of lanes
  3. Tailgating and changing lanes frequently
  4. Making exceptionally wide turns
  5. Changing lanes or passing without sufficient clearance
  6. Overshooting or stopping well before stop signs or stop lights
  7. Disregarding signals and lights
  8. Approaching signals or leaving intersections too quickly or slowly
  9. Driving without headlights, failing to lower high beams or leaving turn signals on
  10. Driving with windows open in cold or inclement weather

When calling 911, either pull over or do so hands-free. Your driving may be compromised because you are concentrating on what someone else is doing and you are in a stressful situation so take special care to not tailgate, run red-light, or speed. It’s not your job to follow the person or to apprehend them. Make the call and then let the police do their job.

In the article Arn talked about what to expect when calling 911 and what you may be asked or may want to take note to share:

  • Your name and contact information (in case the connection is dropped or should you need to act as a witness if there is a court case)
  • Make, model and color of the car
  • Description of the car
  • Licence plate (if you can read it)
  • Description of the driver (if you got close enough)
  • How many people were in the car
  • What road you were on
  • What direction you were travelling
  • The nearest intersection
  • Road condition
  • What the driver was doing: weaving, bouncing off the curb, speeding up/slow down

I love Arn’s final line in the article

“Be a witness,” he says. “Not a statistic!” Arn Kashino

DAMN straight Arn – I hear you and will take your message to heart. Drunk drivers, you’ve been warned. I am on the look out and I will report anyone I suspect!

Have you ever called 911 and reported a suspected drunk driver? Would you now?

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), and on the Web.

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