Fuschillo And Venditto Herald Vasean's Law As July 4th Weekend Approaches

Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.

June 29, 2005

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), who was the author of the law that lowered the state’s legal limit blood alcohol level (BAC) from .10 to .08, was joined by Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto and DWI activists in asking drivers to be cautious as we approach the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the first holiday weekend during which Vasean’s Law will be in effect.

"With Vasean’s Law in effect, people who drink and drive will no longer be able to escape prosecution for the more serious crimes of killing or injuring another while driving drunk. Hopefully, Vasean’s Law will be enough to convince some drunk drivers to designate a driver, take a cab or avoid drinking this holiday weekend," said Senator Fuschillo, who co-sponsored the legislation in the Senate.

Due to loopholes in state law, drunk drivers involved in collisions causing injury or death, such as the drunk driver who took eleven year old Vasean Phillip Alleyne’s life, had been able to escape the more serious felony charges of vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter, and were often charged with only drunk driving or other lesser offenses.

New York State law had required prosecutors to prove that a drunk driver was engaged in a criminally negligent act, in addition to driving drunk, in order to support a charge of vehicular manslaughter. This "rule of two" loophole often allowed drunk drivers to escape with little punishment. Vasean’s Law greatly increases prosecutors’ ability to bring felony charges against drink drivers who kill or injure another by eliminating the requirement that they prove a drunk driver committed that additional criminally negligent act.

"For many people, a summer barbecue or pool party includes a few beers, some wine or mixed drinks. While many people have a heightened awareness about the perils of drinking and driving, I can’t stress enough that if you are going to be driving, you should limit your alcohol intake or, better yet, stick to non-alcoholic beverages. If you plan to drink, think about having a designated driver so that a non-drinker is available to drive you home after the party," stated Supervisor Venditto. "The same advice applies to boaters, because the marine environment accelerates a drinker’s impairments. Please, use your common sense. Remember…drinking and driving don’t mix; drinking and boating don’t mix."

"Be safe over this July 4th holiday and please don’t drink and drive. Celebrate our country’s birthday and remember Vasean’s law makes it a felony to drink, drive and kill or injure. You will do seven years when you are found and you will be found," said Denna Cohen. "Have fun and celebrate and be with your friends and family next year."

"Like so many Long Islanders, DEDICATEDD members will attend and host parties where alcohol will be served. We have taken great care in planning these parties and a very important part of that plan is doing all we can to insure that we, and our loved ones, get home safely," said Marge Lee of DEDICATEDD. "This year, in New York because of the efforts of Senator Fuschillo and other legislators, those uncaring individuals who choose to drive drunk and kill or injure will go to jail. Drinking is an individual's choice. Drinking and then driving is also a choice and a potentially lethal choice. While we still cannot prevent drunk drivers for making that choice, Vasean's law and Senator Fuschillo's commitment to fighting this crime will help victims attain justice."

"Please stay safe this holiday weekend, buckle up and don’t drink and drive," added Senator Fuschillo. "In New York State, the message is clear: If you drink and drive, you will go to jail."

Senator Fuschillo also renewed his call for mandatory minimum sentencing for drivers who are convicted of driving with extremely elevated BAC levels. Under Senator Fuschillo’s legislation, a driver who is convicted of driving with a BAC of .15 (which is nearly double the legal limit for intoxication) would receive at least 5 days mandatory confinement, and drunk drivers with a .20 BAC (almost two and a half times higher than the legal limit) would receive at least 10 days mandatory confinement for their first offense, in addition to any other applicable penalties.