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by Eden Debebe and Sumeet Dhami

Advocates, community groups and family members who have lost loved ones are calling for maximum mandatory sentencing in fatal impaired or dangerous driving cases in Canada.

Rob Brar joined the cause after losing his 19-year-old son Jagrajan in an alleged drunk driving incident on October 10th.

“There needs to be an increase in sentences jail times and fines that keep these people off the road that deters them, because I’ll tell you what,” said Brar, “I don’t think [the driver] would have climbed behind the wheel of that car if he knew he was gonna get 20 years for killing somebody.”

 

According to Peel police the multi-vehicle crash occurred in Brampton just after midnight, on Hurontario Street near the intersection of Mineola Road south of the QEW.

Paramedics attended to Jag’s injuries when they arrived, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other people involved in the collision sustained minor injuries.

Police records show Simms already had two impaired driving convictions on his record, something advocate Jillian McLeod tells OMNI Television should have kept him from getting behind the wheel that afternoon.

“Right now they keep getting released on bail, keep getting released via early parole,” McLeod said.

“That’s why these crashes keep happening…they all had repeat offenses on their record and should’ve been in jail already.”

 

McLeod also pointed out that this isn’t the first time this year a repeat offender has been involved in a fatal drunk driving incident.

On June 18th, 37-year-old Karolina Ciasullo and her three daughters—6-year old Klara, 3-year old Lilianna and 1-year old Mila died in a serious car crash at Torbram Road and Countryside Drive. Officers later revealed the other driver involved, 20-year-old Brady Robertson, had been charged with one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle just two days before the fatal collision with Ciasullo and her daughters. Robertson was later charged with four counts each of dangerous and impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death.

37-year old Karolina Ciasullo and her three daughters—6-year old Klara (far left), 3-year old Lilianna and 1-year old Mila

Hundreds of messages have reportedly been sent to federal Justice Minister David Lametti, calling for stiffer sentences against impaired drivers. According to McLeod, a thorough review of current legislation is the only way to prevent something like this from happening again.

“What we’re looking to do is petition our justice minister to start reviewing the laws, the sentencing and parole eligibility that are allowing these repeat offenders to be allowed back on the streets,” McLeod said.

OMNI Television received a written statement from the Justice Minister’s office, outlining changes already being made to crack down on drunk driving.

“Our government brought in sweeping changes to ensure that Canada has some of the strongest and most preventative measures in the world. A key part of these changes was raising the maximum sentence for driving under the influence. Under the new regime, intoxicated driving can now be punished by up to 10 years in prison (up from 5 years under the previous law) and allows the potential for designating dangerous offender status. We also made it so that a judge can now impose a life sentence for dangerous driving causing death (up from a maximum of 14 years under the previous law). Those who commit an offense causing bodily harm continue to face a sentence of up to 14 years imprisonment under the law.”

Advocates say existing legislation is not enough, calling for even harsher penalties including a maximum mandatory sentencing of 15-20 years for dangerous and impaired driving causing death and a parole eligibility increase from one-third to three-fourths of the sentence.

Brar is hoping for a denial at Simms’ bail hearing, which was previously scheduled for November 18, but has been pushed back to December 16th.

“To grant him bail…this man is going to get out and reoffend,” Brar said.

“The judge in there can only do what the judge has the power to do. This all boils down to one man: Minister Lametti.”

While he admits changes in legislation probably won’t come in time to effect his son’s case, Brar said he hopes it will help prevent future accidents.

“If we can just save one loved one by putting the pressure on…that’s the mission. I want to turn something horrible into something good,” Brar said.

You can learn more about the #Justice4Jag movement on Instagram, Twitter and sign the Brar family’s Change.org petition.