Special to The Record
I recently had the opportunity and the privilege to attend the MADD Canada National Conference in Toronto and, as always, I was blown away by what this organization strives for and accomplishes. The Mothers Against Drunk Drivers community is full of support and understanding and fierce passion for the change that will bring justice and save lives. Drinking and driving is a brutal crime, but it has not made this community brutal in return. I call it a crime, because that is exactly what it is. Every single person that has known grief and loss and despair at the hands of a drunk driver, each and every one of them, could have been prevented. The devastation of drinking and driving is 100 per cent preventable. We are not the victims and survivors of accidents, we are the victims and survivors of criminal choices.
Drinking and driving crashes and murders are not something that happens to us, and to our communities, they are something that is done to us – and the sickest and saddest part of all is lack of justice. Canada is getting better, very slowly, thanks largely to the MADD organization, but we still find ourselves in a position where the sentences being doled out do not even scratch the surface of the atrocities that were committed. Most of the drinking and driving injuries and deaths are committed by repeat offenders; people who have lost licenses, injured others, or killed people. Clearly, the sentencing is doing very little by way of prevention.
There is still hope within the MADD community that the punishment for drinking and driving will become more severe and there will be less tolerance in our justice system, but that is not the only hope. MADD Canada puts an enormous amount of effort into spreading awareness and education about the dangers of drinking and driving. It is working. MADD Canada school programs and community chapters are saving lives and changing our country into a safer place.
As many of you know, my family and I have experienced firsthand the devastation of drinking and driving. The weight of everything we have lost led us to reach out to MADD Canada, and we received nothing but understanding, acceptance and support in return. MADD offers us the important hope of preventing these needless and tragic deaths.
It is this hope, the hope of making the roads safer and saving lives, that inspired us to reach out to the community of the Comox Valley and start a MADD chapter here. I cannot emphasize enough how much MADD helped me survive, not just in coping with my injuries but surviving the legal proceedings, and most of all: surviving my loss and my grief. Our community has been touched too often by loss at the hands of drivers under the influence, and there is not a MADD chapter on Vancouver Island to offer support. I believe having a chapter on the Island is an enormous step towards spreading awareness for a safer community, and a healthy support system for victims and survivors of impaired driving.
Molly Burton was the victim of a hit & run along Comox Road in 2013. The young offender responsible admitted to “shot-gunning” beers prior to getting behind the wheel of a car.