Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice today reminded Long Islanders to designate a driver this holiday weekend or face tougher DWI penalties under a new state law. Senator Fuschillo and District Attorney Rice were joined by Denise Tangney, who lost her granddaughter, Katie Flynn, at the hands of a drunk driver.
"New Year’s Eve is a great time to go out and enjoy being with family or friends, but people need to remember to designate a driver. New York State strengthened its DWI laws earlier this year to prevent more drunk driving tragedies in 2007 and beyond, and drunk drivers are now going to find out just how serious we are in stopping DWI on our roadways," said Senator Fuschillo, who sponsored the new law.
"These reforms are needed progress and the result of Senator Fuschillo’s hard work and dedication to this fight. I will continue to work in bipartisan fashion with Senator Fuschillo to pass innovative legislation that we’re confident will save lives on our roads," said District Attorney Rice.
"New York State has finally addressed the catastrophic impact of DWI. Our family is grateful to Senator Fuschillo and Kathleen Rice for their efforts and we will do whatever it takes to educate the public of the consequences of drunk driving. Our lives are forever changed since loosing Katie. Hopefully, this tough legislation will prevent more fatalities caused by drunk drivers, " said Ms. Tangney.
The new law represents one of the most comprehensive reforms to the state's DWI laws in the last 25 years. The new law will:
Increase Penalties for High BAC Offenders:
- Creates the crime of aggravated DWI for drunk drivers who operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .18 or higher, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000-$2,500. A BAC of .18 is equivalent to a 190 pound man consuming 9 drinks in an hour.
- Increases penalties for offenders convicted of aggravated DWI.
- Prohibits a plea bargain below misdemeanor DWI for aggravated DWI offenders.
- Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock system in the vehicles of aggravated DWI offenders on probation.
Keep Drunk Drivers Off the Road:
- Extends the driver license revocation period for repeat DWI offenders and for refusing to submit to a chemical test.
-Persistent offenders will now have their driver’s licenses permanently revoked.
- Felony charges for individuals caught driving with a permanently revoked driver's license.
Increase Penalties for Drunk Drivers Who Kill:
- The new law more than doubles the maximum penalty from 7 years in prison to 15 years in prison for a drunk driver who kills when that drunk driver has a previous DWI conviction, has a BAC of .18 or more (aggravated DWI), causes the death of 2 or more people, or has been previously convicted of a motor vehicle homicide offense.
Help Treat Addiction:
- Drivers submitting a plea bargain from a DWI offense to a DWAI offense will be required to complete an alcoholism and drug rehabilitation program.
- "Screening" will now be required for all first time offenders with a BAC of less than .15.
- Requires an alcohol dependency assessment for repeat offenders, offenders with a BAC of .15 or higher, or for those who need it as indicated by screening.
This law was passed by the State Legislature earlier this year.
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