The "Muzzo effect" impacting sentencing for impaired driving in Newmarket

It's been nearly three years since Marco Muzzo took the lives of three children and their grandfather in an impaired driving case that saw unprecedented sentencing - 10 years in prison for a first-time offender.

Since that day, there's been a distinct change in how first-time impaired driving offenders are handled in Newmarket.

The city's acting deputy crown attorney, David Moull, confirmed to NEWSTALK1010 that there has been an increase in the number of individuals facing jail sentences since Muzzo was sentenced. 

"It's no longer going to be a given that a first-time offender in an impaired driving scenario - even one where there isn't an accident and where injury isn't caused - is going to be given a non-custodial sentence," said NEWSTALK1010's legal analyst Ed Prutschi.

But he added that it's not entirely Muzzo to blame for this shift.

"In impaired driving, there's been a very clear trend for years now amongst courts - particularly appellate courts, year after year - saying 'we gotta get tougher on this'," he said.

But as for actually making our roads safer, Prutschi said that's a tough question to answer.

"The problem is that the bulk of these offences are being committed by a small core - as is often the case - of people who are just not capable of being deterred," he explained, saying it may not work for someone who is an alcoholic or someone who has already committed impaired crimes.

In general, Prutschi said, there's been a shift in how the public views impaired driving, with individuals now going out of their way to stop someone they suspect is drunk and may get behind the wheel. And with that, there's also more of a stigma for lawyers of convicted first-time offenders to appeal sentencing that includes jail time.

"What you end up finding is the Court of Appeal says ' you know what? Maybe it is a jump, but we agree with that jump,' and so now you become notorious for being the person who set the new high bar," he said. "And I think that's what happened in the Muzzo case."