Senate Passes Drunk Driving Legislation

Thomas P. Morahan

March 06, 2006

New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahanannounced Senate passage of legislation to crack down on drunk driving by increasing the penalties for DWI offenders with extremely high blood alcohol content (BAC), ensuring that repeat DWI offenders are kept off the road, and increasing the penalties for drunk drivers who kill others. The bill reflects an agreement with the State Assembly.

"We have a responsibility to do whatever we can to protect all New Yorkers from falling victim to a drunk driving tragedy. By targeting the repeat offenders and high BAC drivers, who have shown time and time again that they have no regard for the safety of other drivers, we will save lives,"said Senator Morahan.

The legislation (S.8232) would:

Increase Penalties for High BAC Offenders:

Ÿ Creates the crime of aggravated DWI for drunk drivers who operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .18 or higher, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000-$2,500.

Ÿ Increases penalties for offenders convicted of aggravated DWI.

Ÿ Requires aggravated DWI offenders to have an ignition interlock system installed on their vehicle while on probation.

Keep Repeat Drunk Drivers Off the Road:

Ÿ Extends the driver license revocation period for repeat DWI offenders and drivers who refuse a to submit to a chemical test.

Ÿ Permanently revokes the licenses of anyone who has a combination of 3 or more DWI convictions or chemical test refusals within a four year period. Offenders with a combination of 4 or more DWI convictions or chemical test refusals within an 8 year period would also have their licenses permanently revoked.

Ÿ Individuals who are caught driving with a permanently revoked drivers license would face felony charges.

Increase Penalties for Drunk Drivers Who Kill:

Ÿ Adds four new factors which would increase the penalties for vehicular manslaughter in the second degree (class D felony) to vehicular manslaughter in the first degree (class C felony). The factors are: the crash caused the death of two or more persons other than the defendant; the defendant has 2 or more DWI convictions within the last 5 years, or 3 or more convictions within the last 10 years; the defendant has previously been convicted of a homicide offense caused by driving; or the defendant is guilty of aggravated DWI.

Help Treat Addiction:

Ÿ Drivers submitting a plea bargain from a DWI offense to a DWAI offense would be required to complete an alcoholism and drug rehabilitation program.

Ÿ Requires "screening" for all first time offenders with a BAC of less than .15.

Ÿ 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.

The bill was sent to the Assembly.