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Senator Fuschillo Announces Agreement On New Law To Allow Prosecutors To Charge Drunk Drivers Who Kill With Homicide

 

State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. today announced a three-way agreement on legislation that he sponsored in the Senate (S.5517A), that would create the new charge of aggravated vehicular homicide for drunk drivers who kill others and aggravated vehicular assault for drunk drivers who injure other people. Negotiations between Senator Fuschillo, Governor Eliot Spitzer and the bill’s Assembly sponsor, Harvey Weisenberg resulted in agreement on the measure that will strengthen New York State’s DWI laws.

"By creating the offenses of aggravated vehicular homicide and aggravated vehicular assault we are strengthening our laws to give prosecutors the tools they need to appropriately charge drunk drivers who kill or injure others," said Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R, Merrick).

Governor Spitzer said, "I applaud Senator Charles Fuschillo, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg and the legislative leaders for passing this important legislation that will increase the penalties for those who kill innocent people while irresponsibly driving under the influence of alcohol. I also thank Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and the entire Flynn family for their persistent advocacy and support."

Senator Fuschillo praised Jennifer and Neil Flynn of Long Beach, Long Island and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice for their strong advocacy for this legislation.

District Attorney Rice said, "I’m thrilled with the support this bill has received and I applaud those involved for taking this giant step and for putting public safety ahead of partisan politics. I will continue to work with members from both sides of the aisle to save lives on our state’s roads."

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 on Long Island. The crash killed seven-year-old Katie and 59-year-old limo driver Stanley Rabinowitz.

The new law would create 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.

The Senate and the Assembly are expected to approve the legislation this week and Governor Spitzer has said that he will sign the bill into law.


Click the links below to read additional news coverage of this legislative agreement:

Newsday
New York Post
Daily News
WNBC 4
CBS Radio 880
1010 WINS

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