Serial drunk-driver jailed for two years

By Glenn Hicks
August 23, 2017 - 2:33pm Updated: August 24, 2017 - 7:38am

A prolific drunk driver has been put behind bars for two years.

Richard Janzen, 53, who admits to being an alcoholic, received his sentence in Prince Albert provincial court following his guilty plea to several charges.

The court heard how Janzen was impaired when he was involved in two crashes in the last eight months. In both instances he had disabled the inter-lock ”blow box” device that was supposed to prevent him from driving. Janzen has been convicted on six previous occasions since 1982 and served two short prison terms in recent years.

In the latest series of offences, he swerved into another vehicle on Highway 302 West in December. Fortunately the driver of the other car sustained only minor injuries. Janzen ran off, but police found him further up the road against a barbed wire fence.

Then in July this year, he smashed into another vehicle at the intersection of 15th St. W. and 16th Ave. Janzen led police on a chase at speeds of up to 140 km/h. They found him at home and the keys to his truck were still in the vehicle.

In seeking the two year jail term, Crown prosecutor Cynthia Alexander said Janzen’s crimes had become more serious over time.

“He was severely intoxicated, these events happened in the middle of the day, and he showed no concern for the safety of others,” Alexander said. She called his effort to disable the inter-lock device “deliberate moral culpability.”

Defence lawyer Ron Piche told the court by pleading guilty to the offences his client had accepted responsibility for his actions.

“Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before bouncing back," Piche said. He said Janzen had already lost his business over his problems and his family would be next unless he got help.

In handing down the sentence Judge Gerald Morin said public safety was paramount regarding serial drunk driving offenders.

“He has caused unacceptable and dangerous havoc, pain and suffering,”  Morin said.

The court heard Janzen has been affected by his alcohol addiction from an early age, likely prompted when his father was killed by a tree the pair were felling together. 

Janzen spoke briefly before the hearing wrapped up.

“I didn’t choose to become an alcoholic,” he said, “but I can choose to become sober and get better."

He’ll serve his sentence at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary where he’ll receive programming to address his addiction.

Janzen will then serve another two years on probation and must prove he has abstained from alcohol for the first year.

 

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