Articles Posted in Impaired Driving

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It’s the holiday season! Brian Goldfinger and everyone here at Goldfinger Injury Lawyers wishes you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and safe holiday and new year.

Today (December 18, 2018) new penalties for impaired driving were introduced. The penalties are stiff, and have significant implication in both criminal and personal injury cases. With today’s installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog; Brian Goldfinger will explain what the penalties and what the changes are to the law. These changes have an impact on everyone (motorists, pedestrians and cyclists) across Ontario; so take note.

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Using 5 P’s in to this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post has got to be some sort of record!

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the mobile device game Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm. Its received a record number of downloads since it launched, caused server crashes, and has resulted in actual physical crashes causing harm to people as well.

The game is a phenomenon to say the least.

If you’ve never seen or played the game, here is a very quick rundown. The game is played in augmented reality. While there have been augmented reality games in the past, Pokemon Go is the first game of its kind to really take off.

Players are followed in an augmented reality world via GPS maps, to find Pokemon. These are little cartoon like animals. Think giant scavenger hunt played out on a Google Map using your cell phone. There are physical landmarks in the game which are identified as Pokestops or Pokegyms. Players can track their footsteps on the map.

To give you an idea of the popularity of the game, let me share a story with you. The game in Canada was officially launched last week. When I left my office for lunch on Tuesday, over 10 random people I passed near my Toronto Office all had their heads down; deeply immersed in Pokemon Go.

Today, I am preparing this blog from my Kitchener-Waterloo Office. While walking around downtown Kitchener, I spotted yet again more than 10+ random people with their heads down, fully immersed in the world of Pokemon Go. The game has been picked up by millions of Canadians in a very short span of time.

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A few weeks ago, the Marco Muzzo sentencing grabbed national headlines. In case you don’t know about the Marco Muzzo case; here’s the gist.

Mr. Muzzo was driving drunk in York Region. His drunk driving led to a fatal car crash which killed 4 people. It was a tragic collision. At our law firm, we don’t refer to these collisions as “accidents“. Accidents are by their very nature, unintentional acts. You mean no harm, although harm may come from your unintentional negligence.

Drunk driving on the other hand is never unintentional. It’s a conscious decision to drink, and then another conscious decision to drive. Every person needs to know or ought to know that whenever you get behind the wheel after you’ve had a drink or two puts the lives and safety of other motorists at risk.

Mr. Muzzo was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He received 8 months credit for time spent in prison pre-sentencing. That means that he will only need to serve 9 years and 4 months in jail. Upon release from prison, he will be prohibited from driving for 12 years.  He will be eligible for parole and an early release. When that time comes is up to the Court. In my informal poll of criminal lawyers, the consensus is that if Mr. Muzzo is a model prisoner, he may get parole in around 3 years or so.

Think about that long and hard. If Mr. Muzzo, having made a conscious decision to drink and drive and kill 4 people is out on parole in 3-4 years, does that punishment/penalty fit the crime? Conversely, does 9 years and 4 months of jail time fit the crime?

Finding the right balance between penalty, punishment, deterrent and rehabilitation/reintegration of an offender is a difficult balance. This is one of the hallmarks of Canada’s criminal justice system. The goal of the justice system is not only justice, but it’s to rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders so that they can become productive members to society.

This same delicate balancing act does NOT apply to the civil justice system. Nobody is doing jail time (unless they’re found in contempt of Court or in repeated breach of a Court Order) for having caused damage to others.

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The Christmas lights have gone up. The festive parties are a plenty. The snow is….um…..non-existent with some of the highest temperatures Ontario has ever seen for December. In any event, it’s HOLIDAY time once again.

Around this time, and in to the New Year, our lawyers get some strange, and some not so strange calls. This means that there are some common injury patterns we see, and other patterns which aren’t so common. Without further a due, here are Goldfinger Injury Lawyers’s top tips on keeping things safe for the Holiday and New Year season.

DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE: Quite simply, alcohol and driving don’t mix. And that statement applies to any amount of alcohol consumed; even if it’s “just a couple of drinks” at a friend’s Holiday Gathering. We can tell you that R.I.D.E will be out in full force across Ontario; from London to Peterborough, to Toronto to Sudbury. Your local police force will be out there making sure people aren’t drinking and driving. If you play your cards right, you may even get a coupon from those friendly officers at R.I.D.E. I would also like to add that the term “driving” applies not only to cars, motorcycles or other vehicles. It also applies to bikes, E-Bikes, scooters. segways, etc. We get a lot of crazy calls of people riding anything with wheels (motorized or non-motorized) after having consumed a few too many drinks with catastrophic consequences. Drinking and driving is always a choice. Make the right one and arrive alive and in one piece. You’re not just putting your life at risk, but also the lives of other innocent people and their families at risk as well. No amount of money can ever properly compensate somebody for a loss of limb, a catastrophic brain injury, or the loss of a loved one. Continue reading →

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Just after 4 p.m. this past Sunday, Gary and Neriza Neville were driving with their grandchildren – Daniel, 9, Harry, 5, and Millie Neville-Lake, 2 – and the children’s great-grandmother Josephina Frias when an SUV operated by Marco Muzzo slammed into the side of their minivan at an intersection north of Toronto. Mr. Neville and all three children died of their injuries.

The parents of the children, Edward Neville and Jennifer Neville-Lake, were not in the minivan. Ms. Neville-Lake learned of the collision while watching TV news at home and has called the loss “the worst nightmare.”

The cause of the collision appears to have been drunk driving. Charges have been laid, but nothing has yet to be proven in Court.

Many of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog readers, and non-readers heard about this tragic quadruple fatality claim. It brings to light a number of legal issues which I would like to clarity regarding drunk driving laws, and how damages work for drunk driving claims along with Court penalties for drunk driving.

Here are some of the most common misconceptions about drunk driving and fatality/wrongful death claims:

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Driving while using or even holding a hand held device has become a hot button topic across Canada. Charges in relation to distracted driving are on the rise, and are slowly catching up to those charges related to impaired driving.

In Ontario, it’s illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communication or entertainment device; think smartphone or I-Pad.

Attentive drivers keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the steering wheel. They aren’t distracted by their tablets or cell phones. It’s proven that drivers who operate cell phones while operating a motor vehicle are 4x more likely to be involved in a car accident than drivers who simply focus on driving. Even more interesting is that when motorists take their eyes off of the road for more than 2 seconds, the chances of them being involved in a car crash almost doubles. This is why it’s so important to keep your eyes on the road and not your phone.

Impaired driving is something different. When we thought of impaired driving in the past, we thought of driving under the influence of alcohol (over 80 as the term is commonly called in Ontario Courts, because that’s the legal limit).

Today, driving under the influence isn’t just limited to drunk driving offences. Ontario is currently 1 of 3 Canadian jurisdictions without any specific offenses related to driving under influence of drugs or other narcotics. We ought to have specific laws which prevent and prohibit such behaviour right?

The Ontario Legislature is presently in its third reading of Bill 31, which might be called “Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, 2015; or something really catch and original like that. You know how the Government likes originality and long titles for its acts. If you haven’t read a copy, you should check it out here.

The Act will carry specific wording with respect to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or other narcotics.

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