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Precendent Set, Drunk Driver Gets Life

by Archives September 15, 2009

A Quebec judge rejected an effort Wednesday to give a repeat drunk driving offender a status of dangerous offender, instead sentencing him to life in prison.
Roger Walsh pleded guilty to being dunk when killed a Valleyfield, Que. woman in 2008. The wheelchair-bound victim was taking her dog for a walk on her 47th birthday when she was struck.
It was Walsh’s 19th charge for impaired driving, he also has 114 other previous convictions.
Though prosecutors have tried in the past, no drunk driver in Canada has ever been slapped with that status – or a life sentence. This is the third time prosecutors failed to obtain dangerous offender designation for a drunk driver.
The dangerous offender status in Canada is typically reserved for the worst criminals. Prior to last year, that designation kept offenders in prison indefinitely. Recent changes to federal law, however, gives room for lawyers to seek fixed, long-term sentences in lieu of indefinite ones. According to this amendment in the Criminal Code, Walsh could have received a fixed sentence, followed by mandatory 10 years of close surveillance. If he committed another offence after being released, he would have been sent back to prison for an indefinite amount of time.

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