Cllr Mark Ward calls for Justice Minister to review impaired driving legislation
Sinn Féin Councillor Mark Ward has had a motion passed by South Dublin County Council calling for the Minister of Justice Frances Fitzgerald to review into the sentencing for repeat impaired drivers convicted of causing loss of life and/or serious injuries while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
There was particular emphasis on this review having full consultation with the bereaved families and injured parties. This motion was supported by Leo Lieghio who lost his daughter Marsia aged 16 as result of a hit and run collision in 2005.
Cllr Ward said:
“I have had this motion on the Council agenda for quite some time now and it is fitting that it was passed at the last Council meeting before Christmas.
“Christmas is a happy occasion for most people and it’s a time were a lot of people celebrate with Christmas drinks. I will take this opportunity to ask people to be cautious, to leave the car at home and to avail of all public and private transport that is available.
“I want to bring you back to the 16th October 2005 at 8pm. Marsia Lieghio aged 16 was out with friends. She was crossing at the pedestrian lights with friends on the Fonthill roda when she was struck by car going in excess of 80kph. Marsia was struck so hard that she was lifted straight out of her shoes. Marsia died a week later as a result of her injuries.
“Marisa was 16 and was well loved by everyone who came into contact with her. She loved children and was constantly babysitting. She had started work experience in a crèche during her transitional year. Her ambition was to become a mid-wife.
“The driver that killed Marsia left the scene of the collision. She admitted in court that she was in Clondalkin that night to buy drugs. It was also discovered that she had previous convictions for drunk driving and unlicensed driving. In total she served 10 months for this crime.
“I have worked closely on this motion with Mr Lieghio. We are asking that the Minister for Justice conduct a review into the sentencing for repeat impaired drivers.
“The review should include full consultation with the families bereaved and injured victims. In the aftermath of Marsias death and during the judicial process Mr Lieghio felt that his voice was not listened too. He felt that he was giving information on a need to know basis and that this was often done in a cold manor. Mr Lieghio would like to see advocates assisting and advising bereaved families pre, during and post the judicial procedure.
“Some of the measures that Mr Lieghio would like the Minister to consider when reviewing this matter are; an immediate ban for those caught drinking and driving, increased fines, confiscation of vehicles.
“That any impaired offence causing death and serious injuries are not heard in a District Court but rather in the Circuit Court. This will allow the Judge to impose tougher sentences and or fines if he or she sees fit, and also repeat impaired drivers should also be dealt with at district court level.
“One last point is the use of the word accident when dealing with collisions caused by impaired drivers. In my numerous meetings with Leo, I occasionally used the word accident when talking about the collisions by impaired drivers. Leo rightly rebuked me. A definition of the word accident is an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause.
“The dangers of impaired driving are well known. Media campaigns inform us regular, so when someone decides that they are going to drive impaired they are fully informed of the possible consequences of their actions. Language is powerful and if we could use the word collision instead of accident it could change people’s perceptions of these horrific crimes.”