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Senate Passes Legislation To Allow Drunk Drivers Who Kill To Be Charged With Homicide

 

New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahanannounced New York State Senate passage of legislation (S.5517) that would create the new charge of aggravated vehicular homicide for drunk drivers who kill others.

Senate action on the legislation was announced at a Capitol news conference where members of the Senate Majority Conference were joined by the family members of Katie Flynn.

On July 2, 2005, the Flynn family was riding home from a family member’s wedding in Long Island in a limousine when they were hit head-on by 24-year-old Martin Heidgen, a drunk driver who was driving on the wrong side of the Meadowbrook Parkway in Long Island. The crash killed seven-year-old Katie and 59-year-old limo driver Stanley Rabinowitz.

"We need to send a very strong message that we will not tolerate drivers who endanger others because they make the wrong choice to drink and get behind the wheel of a vehicle. This legislation will give law enforcement the resources they need to make sure they can appropriately punish all drunk drivers who recklessly put the lives of others at risk," said Senator Morahan.

The bill would strengthen state law by creating the new crime of aggravated vehicular homicide, a class B felony with a penalty of up to 25 years in prison. This crime would apply to criminals who kill someone in a drunk or drugged driving crash and also have at least one of the following:

BAC of .18 or higher;

prior DWI conviction within the last 10 years;

crash caused the death of more than one person;

crash killed one person and severely injures another;

offender was driving with a suspended or revoked license from any state.

The legislation also creates the new crime of aggravated vehicular assault, a class C felony with a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. This crime would apply to drunk or drugged drivers who cause serious physical injury to another person and also have at least one of the following:

BAC of .18 or higher;

prior DWI conviction within the last 10 years;

crash caused serious injury to more than one person;

offender was driving with a suspended or revoked license from any state.

In addition, the Senate today passed two DWI bills that would:

increase penalties for criminal convictions of drunk or drugged driving where a child, under the age of 17, is a passenger (S.5315); and

expand and strengthen New York State’s ignition interlock program for DWI offenders (S.5780).

The bills were sent to the Assembly.

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