Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) hosted a public forum today regarding the issue of drunk driving. Senator Fuschillo gathered input from other elected officials, advocacy groups, and the general public about legislation he is sponsoring in the New York State Senate.
"Drunk driving remains a problem throughout our state, claiming the lives of almost 100 Long Islanders last year alone. Although we have made great progress, new deterrents are needed to make people think twice about drinking and driving," said Senator Fuschillo, who also authored the law reducing the legal BAC limit in New York State from .10 to .08. "This forum solicited input from concerned individuals, and will raise awareness among the public about drinking and driving."
The legislation being considered (S2276) would create additional penalties for drunk drivers with an elevated blood alcohol content (BAC). Individuals with a .15 BAC (which is nearly double the legal limit) would receive 5 days mandatory confinement for their first offense, and drunk drivers with a .20 BAC (almost two and a half times higher than the legal limit) would receive 10 days mandatory confinement for their first offense, in addition to any other applicable penalties. In both cases, longer sentences could be imposed for repeat offenses. Aspects of other drunk driving measures were also discussed.
"This legislation sends a very simple, but strong, message: If you drink and drive, you will go to jail," Senator Fuschillo added.
The individuals who offered testimony included MADD Long Island President DennaCohen, DEDICATEDD President and Co-Founder Marge Lee, AAA of New York Governmental Affairs Director John Corlett, Nassau County STOP-DWI Coordinator Pamela Kelly-Pincus, and Barbara Consalvo, whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver.
"When a person has a BAC of .15 - .20 they can hardly stand up, how do we think they can drive? People that consume alcohol to this level of intoxication and then choose to drive should be punished with mandatory jail time," Denna Cohen, President of MADD Long Island stated.
"With one third of crashes in New York State involving a drunk driver, contributing to over 500 fatalities annually, individuals who drive under the influence of alcohol present a clear and present danger on the road," stated AAA of New York Governmental Affairs Director John Corlett. "We commend Senator Fuschillo for addressing this important issue and for his efforts to find workable solutions to this long-standing problem."
"Reform is long overdue. Automatic jail sentences would be a strong deterrent sending the message that high BACs will not be tolerated," Barbara Consalvo stated. "Fines of a few hundred dollars or community service are not much different from fines imposed for a parking or speeding ticket. Alcohol related offenses need to be treated differently to show the guilty parties that we view these offenses as a serious crime which will be dealt with seriously."
"Life is about choice. If intoxicated individuals choose to drive, then we must choose to protect those we love," stated DEDICATEDD President and Co-Founder Marge Lee. "Senator Fuschillo’s bill should be passed to send a message to high BAC drivers, that we, the law abiding citizens of New York, choose to put you in jail."
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