By The Canadian Press
SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, Que. - It's not the sentence they were looking for, but Crown prosecutors say a legal precedent was still set today.
Crown lawyer Joey Davis says it's the first time a Canadian court has handed a life sentence to a drunk driver. A Quebec man was condemned to life in prison following his 19th drunk-driving conviction - in a case where he ran over and killed a woman in a wheelchair.
A judge declared Roger Walsh incorrigible and said he would be likely to reoffend.
But Quebec court judge Michel Mercier did not hand prosecutors the legal prize they were looking for: dangerous offender status for Walsh.
The Crown had been seeking to make Walsh the first Canadian subjected to that designation for drunk driving.
But the judge said the label - which has been reserved for the worst criminals, like murderers and serial rapists - did not apply in this case.
In practical terms, however, today's sentencing could wind up being just as harsh.
Walsh would have had a chance, either way, to seek parole after seven years; the difference with dangerous offenders is that once they're freed they're monitored more strictly and, if they reoffend, they can then be locked up indefinitely.