New City, NY – Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester), law enforcement, and advocates against drinking and driving gathered outside the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office to call on people to think before they drink this New Year's weekend.
"Hundreds of people are killed and thousands are injured each year due to crashes caused by drinking and driving. It's easy to make a plan before you drink. Make sure you have a designated driver or use a ride-sharing service. Law enforcement will be out in full force heading into New Year's Day, and they are taking a zero-tolerance stance against drunk driving,” said Senator David Carlucci.
Ahead of New Year's Day, New York State Police and the Rockland County Sheriff's Office have increased traffic patrols and sobriety checkpoints.
"We want people to be responsible. Dana Distributors will be offering their Alert Cab program in four counties, including Rockland and Orange. If you are intoxicated and within a 10-mile radius of your home, you can utilize an Alert Cab by asking a bartender to call. Dozens of cab companies participate in the program. There is no excuse for getting behind the wheel after drinking," said Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco.
The national "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, which runs December 15th through Jan. 1st led to 40,489 trooper-issued tickets in New York last year. Most of the tickets were for speeding, while 645 people were arrested for DWI. Ten people were also killed during the 17-day campaign last year, and 40 percent of motor vehicle accident deaths involved alcohol.
Anastasia Karassik knows the pain of drinking and driving all too well. Karassik lost her 13-year-old daughter, Larisa in a drunk driving accident in Warren, New York on Memorial Day Weekend, May 23, 2015. A driver accused of being under the influence of alcohol and drugs slammed into the Karassik family’s SUV after running a stop sign. Larisa was in the back seat and was killed, while her friend suffered minor injuries. Larisa's father who was driving was severely injured.
“The drunk driver who killed our 13-year-old daughter Larisa was a two-time prior, repeat offender. His driver’s license was revoked due to his prior convictions. He should have never been out on the road driving,"said Mothers Against Drunk Driving Rockland County Leader, Anastasia Karassik." "Due to being intoxicated with a 0.18 Blood Alcohol Level, which is twice the legal limit and ingesting prescription narcotics, he turned his vehicle into a deadly weapon that killed Larisa. The devastation of losing a child is every parent's worst nightmare. This was a 100 percent avoidable fatality. I share our tragic story about 'Losing Larisa' with hope that our message will be received by people, never to drink and drive."
In memory of Larisa, Karassik created a non-for-profit foundation, LarisaStrong.org to continue to share Larisa’s story and help prevent drunk driving.
Senator Carlucci is also working to pass legislation that restricts repeat offenders from getting behind the wheel.
The 'Repeat Offender Revocation Law' would increase the penalties for repeat drunk or drugged drivers, and make sure they lose their license in New York permanently.
Currently, a person convicted of two DWIs or more can get their license restored after five years, even if injury is caused in the crash.
Senator Carlucci's legislation would make sure a person loses their license permanently after three DWIs, three refusals of a sobriety test, or two DWIs where a physical injury occurs.