Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) was joined by anti-DWI groups and the New York State Police to warn people about the dangers of drinking and driving during the holidays. Senator Fuschillo also renewed his call to stiffen the penalties faced by those who drink and drive.
"Many Long Islanders welcome the New Year by celebrating with family and friends and it is our hope that by joining together, we will help them avoid a tragedy. This is a season of new beginnings and we want everyone to have a safe start to the New Year," said Senator Fuschillo. "This year, if you are going to drink, remember to have a designated driver or arrange a ride because it may save someone’s life."
"Please be safe and call the local limousine company and arrange a ride if you are going to be drinking. This way you will get to and from your party safely. Enter this new year in a safe and smart manner and don’t drink and drive," stated Peter Giordano, who is the President of the Nassau Suffolk Limousine Association. The Nassau Suffolk Limousine Association lost member Stanley Rabinowitz in the July 2nd drunk driving tragedy on the Meadowbrook Parkway that also took the life of young Katie Flynn.
In an effort to deter drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel, Senator Fuschillo is pushing several bills that would create tougher penalties for those who needlessly put others at risk by drinking and driving.
Senator Fuschillo’s legislation would:
- Impose additional penalties for drunk drivers with an elevated BAC. In addition to any other applicable penalties, individuals with a .15 BAC would receive 5 days mandatory confinement for their first offense, and drunk drivers with a .20 BAC would receive 10 days mandatory confinement for their first offense. In both cases, longer sentences could be imposed for repeat offenses.
- Create a statewide vehicle forfeiture law, in which drivers could have their vehicles seized if they have two DWI convictions within five years and are the sole owner of the vehicle.
- Prohibit a person charged with Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) from plea bargaining down to a non-alcohol offense.
- Eliminate the option of community service as a sentence for a DWI offender who was previously convicted of that same offense within the last five years. These individuals would instead be required to serve a mandatory prison sentence, in addition to any other penalties which may be imposed.
- Require judges to consider certain factors before sentencing a DWI offender. These factors include the offender’s BAC level; the speed at which he/she was traveling; whether the offender was consuming alcohol while driving; and whether he/she was trying to elude apprehension by the police.
"Many of us have made our plans to ring in the New Year. We know where we are going and we should have plans to get home safely. Between cabs, car services and designated drivers, there are so many choices for a ride and any of these choices could be a life saver," stated Marge Lee, DEDICATEDD (Drive Educated Drive Informed Commit and Totally End Drunk Driving) President and Co-Founder. "DEDICATEDD is grateful to Senator Fuschillo for doing all he can and support his efforts to make 2006 a Happy New Year for all of us."
"I urge all Long Islanders to enjoy the holidays with family and to be safe. By avoiding drinking and driving, we can save families from having to place any more memorials on the already crowded roadsides of our highways," added MADD Long Island President and Victim’s Advocate Denna Cohen. "Make 2006 safe and remember to save lives by not drinking and driving."
"Increased police patrols and educational presentations will only do so much. Stronger laws are needed to make people think twice about getting behind the wheel after they have been drinking. People need to know that if they drink and drive in New York State, they will either face a prison sentence, the loss of their car, or both," Senator Fuschillo stated.
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