The New York State Senate today gave final legislative passage to “Vince’s Law,” a bill that would significantly toughen criminal penalties to get persistent drunk drivers off the road.
The bill (S7108), sponsored by Senator John A. DeFrancisco (R-I-C, Syracuse) would extend the period of time in which multiple Driving While Intoxicated convictions can occur in order to be considered a felony. Under the bill, an individual convicted of three or more DWIs within 15 preceding years would be charged with a Class D felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
The bill is named for Vincent Russo, an 82-year-old Onondaga County man, who was killed in 2011 by a drunk driver while Russo was on his way to Sunday morning mass. The intoxicated driver, Michael Iannettoni, had five prior DWI-related convictions, including four in the previous 17 years before the crash that killed Mr. Russo.
“Vincent Russo was tragically killed by a drunk driver, whose blood-alcohol content was four times the legal limit, and was free awaiting sentencing for a fifth DWI violation,” said Senator DeFrancisco. “It’s a complete outrage that Michael Iannettoni was not behind bars because a fatal car crash could have been avoided.”
“We have all been working diligently on this issue,” said Paul Russo. “I am happy that we have passed legislation that could help prosecutors throughout New York State and in some way pay tribute to my late brother.”
“Driving While Intoxicated is a serious offense, and the penalties for such violations should reflect that. Paul Russo has worked tirelessly in his brother’s memory to help make our roads safer,” concluded Senator DeFrancisco.
The bill previously passed in the State Assembly. It will be sent to Governor Cuomo for his consideration.