State Urged To Adopt Stronger Dwi Laws

SYRACUSE -- Attorney General Spitzer today called for legislative approval of a comprehensive anti-DWI program that he said could lead to dramatic reductions in alcohol-related crashes throughout the state.

At a State Fair news conference, Spitzer and leading drunk driving opponents from Central New York urged state lawmakers to break an impasse that has stalled action on stronger DWI laws for several years.

"We must not rest in the fight against drunk driving," Spitzer said. "We can achieve further significant reductions in alcohol-related accidents if we act now on a series of key initiatives."

In consultation with anti-DWI advocates, law enforcement authorities and lawmakers, Spitzer developed the "None for the Road" Legislative Agenda. The main elements of his plan include:

  • Requiring the extended revocation of a driver's license if an individual is convicted for a third DWI offense within five years, or fourth offense within 10 years, and increasing criminal penalties for repeat offenders who commit vehicular manslaughter;
  • Strengthening penalties for those who operate a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) above .20. These heavy drinkers have been associated with the greatest number and most severe crashes;
  • Lowering the per se level of intoxication for operation of motor vehicles from the current .10 BAC standard to .08. The approval of this legislation is a condition of receiving additional federal transportation aid. More than a dozen other states have already approved the measure;
  • Authorizing the discovery of records relating to blood samples taken by a hospital providing care to an injured driver. The records could then be used to prosecute a person for vehicular manslaughter or vehicular assault;
  • Creating a statewide program that uses ignition interlock devices as a condition of sentencing for DWI offenses. The device prevents the use of a vehicle by an intoxicated person; and
  • Developing a new targeted treatment initiative that would provide inpatient rehabilitative services to those convicted of certain alcohol-related offenses.

Leading anti-DWI advocates joined Attorney General Spitzer in urging action on the proposals:

Joanne Hutchinson of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said: "My mission with MADD is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and to prevent under age drinking. The "None-for-the-Road" legislative agenda would advance these goals and make our highways and streets safer for all. I applaud Attorney General Spitzer for his efforts."

Janet Besse, founder of Concerned Citizens Against Drunk Driving, a member of Remove Intoxicated Drivers of New York State, and a victim of a drunk driving accident in 1968, said: "We've come a long way in the last 30 years, but we still need to do more. I strongly support the Attorney General's legislative program. If approved, this program will significantly reduce the problems of drunk driving in New York State."

Spitzer called on legislative leaders to make action on anti-DWI initiatives a top priority next year.

Since approval of several landmark laws in the mid-90s, there has been little action on DWI in New York in recent years.

"New York was always a leader in the fight against drunk driving and can be so again with action on these and other initiatives," Spitzer said.

In addition to the bills mentioned above, Spitzer has sponsored legislation to bar recovery of monetary damages by those whose intoxication contributes to an injury and to suspend the registration of a vehicle owned by an individual whose license is suspended for DWI.