The New York State Senate gave final legislative passage this week to "VaSean's Law," a bill that would increase penalties for drivers who kill or seriously injure other people while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The legislation (S.1872B), sponsored by Senator Serphin Maltese (R-Queens), was passed by the Assembly earlier this week.
"When a person chooses to drink and then get behind the wheel of a car, they are making a dangerous decision that often has tragic consequences," said Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. "This legislation will fix our current law to give prosecutors the tools they need to ensure that these reckless drivers are properly punished for their heinous crimes. For many years, the Senate has passed tough DWI legislation similar to this bill and I'm pleased that we can finally get it enacted into law."
"It is absolutely appalling that there are so many cases where impaired drivers kill or injure innocent people and only get a slap on the wrist. The tragic death of VaSean Alleyne highlighted this situation. VaSean’s mother, Monique Dixon, is to be commended for her perseverance in the face of this tragedy and her fight to change the laws," said Senator Golden. "The car is a weapon when driven by someone who is drunk or high on drugs, and we must ensure that violators are dealt with severely."
"VaSean's Law" was named after eleven year old VaSean Phillip Alleyne, who was killed last year by a drunk driver who could not be charged with a felony under current law. "VaSean's Law" would strengthen current law to make it easier for district attorneys to prosecute drivers for vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter when they cause death or serious injury as a result of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Under current law the so-called "rule of two" requires a drunk driver who kills to also be charged with a second infraction in order to be charged with vehicular manslaughter. This loophole often results in drunk drivers escaping with little punishment. This new measure would address the "rule of two" by eliminating the requirement for prosecutors to prove criminal negligence, making it easier for them to charge a deadly drunk driver with vehicular manslaughter, resulting in stronger criminal penalties.
The bill was sent to the Governor.