Senate Passes Bill To Require Mandatory Jail Sentences For Repeat DWI Offenders

 

The New York State Senate today passed legislation, sponsored by Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick), to require mandatory jail sentences for repeat DWI offenders.

Current law does not require repeat DWI offenders to spend any time in jail. Right now, repeat DWI offenders face class E or D felony charges punishable by up to four or seven years in jail and/or a fine between $1,000-$5,000 or $2,000-$10,000. However, judges have the discretion to sentence these offenders to only a fine or a fine and community service under the law.

The legislation (S750) would require drunk drivers with multiple DWI convictions to serve a jail sentence.

Under the proposed law:

    • Drunk drivers convicted of two DWI crimes within ten years would be guilty of a Class E felony, face up to four years in jail and/or a fine between $1,000-$5,000, and receive a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 30 days.

    • Drunk drivers with three or more DWI convictions within ten years would be guilty of a class D felony, face up to seven years in jail and/or a fine between $2,000-$10,000, and receive a mandatory minimum 90 day jail sentence.

    • Drunk drivers convicted of two aggravated DWI crimes (.18 BAC or higher or DWI with a child in the car) within ten years would be guilty of a Class E felony, face up to four years in jail and/or a fine between $1,000-$5,000, and receive a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 180 days.

    • Drunk drivers convicted of three or more aggravated DWI crimes (.18 BAC or higher or DWI with a child in the car) within ten years would be guilty of a class D felony, face up to seven years in jail and/or a fine between $2,000-$10,000, and receive a mandatory minimum 1 year jail sentence.

These sentences would be in addition to any other applicable penalties.

According to a June 2011 study conducted by the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), which is part of SUNY Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, 50,434 drivers were convicted of a DWI offense in New York State in 2009; 10,897 (21 percent) were repeat offenders. However, only 10 percent of repeat drunk drivers were sentenced to jail time.

Between 2003 and 2012, there have been over 493,000 arrests for DWI in New York State, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.