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‘Make arrangements’ before imbibing, victim’s dad urges

More than a thousand pair of shoes lined the Surrey courthouse steps Saturday as part of an awareness campaign to eliminate drinking driving.

Markita Kaulius and Families for Justice placed 1,074 pairs of shoes on the courthouse steps on Nov. 22 to draw attention to the number of people killed by drunk drivers in Canada last year.

Markita’s daughter Kassandra was killed in May, 2011 when her car was hit by a drunk driver at 64 Avenue and 152 Street.

The demonstration comes only days after figures were released by the province showing a dramatic drop in drunk-driving fatalities since the start of immediate roadside suspensions (IRP) in September, 2010 (see story below).

The province estimates 104 lives have been saved since the IRP system took effect.

That’s based on a drop from an average of 114 impaired fatalities prior to the new rules to 66 in the first full year of the IRP program and 58 in the second year.

Kassandra’s father Victor said Thursday he’s extremely pleased with the dramatic drop in drunk driving deaths, adding it exceeds most people’s expectations of the program.

“That’s great, we’re happy with that,” said Victor Kaulius. “But it’s still not perfect.”

The “missing link” Kaulius said is getting the courts to mete out meaningful sentences for people who choose to drink and drive.

“Especially the impaired that are killing people out there, there’s no accountability still,” Kaulius said. “The police are doing their thing, but the courts are not doing their part.”

He said the awareness campaign is also timed to remind people heading into the Christmas season that if they plan to drink, also plan to have a ride home.

“Really the bottom line is don’t drink and drive,” Kaulius said. “Make arrangements.”

~with files from Jeff Nagel

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