Bring out the cliches.
He has changed the trajectory of lives, including his own, forever.
Emma will never have her dream wedding. The Zolpis parents will never see their only son fulfill his potential. The sister will cling to the clothes in his closet until she can smell his scent no more. The Tobins will forever be stigmatized, pointed at in the grocery store. Jack will do time, then be unable to find a good job because he has a criminal record.
And Alex will be gone, forever more.
Most of us have done it, drinking and driving. Some of us are still doing it.
Every Friday night, the bars are full to capacity with people having six or eight beers. Restaurants have their fill, too. A bottle of wine, maybe two, perhaps a cocktail to start. Then those people get in their cars and go home, there only for the grace of God.
There’s an entire industry built on drinking and driving.
Kids like Jack Tobin have lined the pockets of the rich bar owners in the Byward Market. They’ve bought houses and cars for the servers who depend on their free-flowing cash, servers who know if they cut somebody off, they’ll be lucky to get a couple of bucks in tips.
Booze makes the world go round, and drinking and driving is an epidemic.
Cops hardly make a dent in the fender of the problem. All they would have to do is sit outside a few bars, any bars, and they could cherry pick the offenders. But they don’t. They do periodic RIDE checks at Christmas and on holidays. Once in a while, they pull someone over for a traffic violation and realize they are three sheets, but it’s not very often.
The way most drunk drivers get caught is exactly the way Jack Tobin did. They get so absolutely loaded and they crash their cars. Or they fall asleep at the wheel. Sometimes they kill people or themselves, most times they’re just lucky.
Not all drinking and driving goes on at ten o’clock at night, or one o’clock at night. A lot of people are completely soused after lunch time.
I could give you a list.
But cherry picking drunk drivers isn’t the answer. It’s like killing one wasp when there is still a whole nest left.
What needs to happen is something radical. We need to do two things.
Bring in legislation that makes it illegal to take one drink and get behind the wheel. That would take the decision-making power away from the drinker. There would no longer be guess work: am I fit to drive? am I over the limit?
One drink would be over-the-limit.
The second thing that needs to happen is to stop sending drunk drivers to jail. This doesn’t work. And it’s hardly possible to get a conviction unless the driver is so obviously guilty, as Jack Tobin was. The thing to do is to take the driver’s licence away from the individual, not for a year, not for ten years, but forever.
That will send a message to people who live to drive drunk.
Drink all you want, but take the bus.
Because I know for a fact that many people who love to drink, love to get behind the wheel afterward.
Look at Jack Tobin. Nearly twenty charges, and he was still out there driving badly.
And finally driving deadly.
I hope for everybody’s sake, in this case, he gets a sentence that involves rehab instead of hard time.
And I hope they take his licence away forever.
For a reckless driver like Tobin, that would, ultimately, be the worst punishment of all.