DWI Punishment

Nassau DA Announces Harsher Punishments for

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice held a press conference
yesterday to discuss the first step in her strategy to combat drunk
diving in Nassau County and in New York State.

Flanking Rice at the conference were Nassau County Police Commissioner
James Lawrence, State Senator Charles Fuschillo, Major Walter Heesch of
the New York State Police, members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and
members of the Nassau County Department of Probation and the
Transportation Safety Board.

DA Rice is implementing sweeping changes in terms of prosecuting drunk
drivers, and has declared her commitment to working with legislative
leaders at the county, state and federal levels stiffening penalties for
offenders and offering more treatment alternatives for offenders
suffering from substance abuse problems.

“I stand before you today the proud member of a
coalition devoted to saving lives in Nassau County,†DA Rice
said. “Behind me are leaders in the law enforcement
community, in Albany, in our county government, and in our communities. I
cannot take on the reckless decision by those 4,100 drivers alone
– that’s why I am honored to be
part of this team and look forward to taking this first step together.
Today is Day 1 in our assault on drunk driving in Nassau County. It will
be a long and hard process, certain to create opposition from the other
side of the court room, but this step, and the steps that will follow,
must be taken before more innocent lives are lost.â€

Senator Fuschillo, the author of New York’s .08
law, expressed appreciation for Rice’s support of his
most recent bill – an attempt to require two-time
offenders to serve at least five days in jail.

“I thank District Attorney Rice for supporting this
legislation, and look forward to continuing our partnership to end the
continuing string of senseless tragedies caused by drunk
driving,†the Senator said.

The District Attorney was also joined by Nassau County Police
Commissioner James Lawrence.

“I look forward to working with the DA on these
cases from the moment of criminality to the end of prosecution. A
partnership between her office and mine is essential when combating crime
and I embrace wholeheartedly her efforts to improve the investigations of
these crimes,†said Commissioner Lawrence.

Heading prosecutions of vehicular crime in the District
Attorney’s Office is Assistant District Attorney
Maureen McCormick, whom the office calls a national expert in vehicular
crime and alcohol-related offenses. ADA McCormick will train law
enforcement in evidence collection and preservation as the
DA’s office looks to strengthen its cases in
preparation for trial. She will also launch a speaking tour of high
schools in Nassau County about the dangers of drinking and driving and
the legal costs and ramifications of it.

“My approach is multi-prong. I am addressing
deterrence with more severe punishments, the ability to receive treatment
for many defendants, the need for real license sanctions in New York
State, and the education of kids that have yet to become defendants or
victims of this epidemic,†said District Attorney Rice.

“Drunk driving needs to be accountable for the
destruction of life it causes. If you drive from Western Nassau County to
Eastern Suffolk County – with DA Rice and DA Spota,
you are not going to get away with murder,†said Denna Cohen,
President of the Long Island Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Changes in DWI Policy

The strengthening of cases by procedural and evidentiary upgrades with
the police agencies (i.e. improved cameras in Central Testing Section and
State Police barracks, targeted interrogation and detailed note-taking,
cooperative training with the Nassau County District
Attorney’s Office, universal Portable Breath Tests,
support for Drug Recognition Expert program).

Consistency in approach through a cooperative effort with the
sheriff’s office, probation department and the
judiciary. The DA’s team would like to advocate for
DWI courts, which would allow the expedition of cases, consistency of
plea offers and the ability to follow-up on the conditions of sentence
– especially treatment.

Substantial education for drivers with high BACs. We will advocate for
a driver with a .16+ or a felony DWI to be sentenced to the Victim Impact
Panel. We will also advocate for drivers with low BACs, who are thus
ineligible for the DMV’s Drinking Driver Program, to
receive a 6-hour course covering the toxicology of alcohol and drugs. The
DA’s office wants for aggressive drivers to be
sentenced to a Driver Improvement Course but not to receive the insurance
benefit associated with the DMV-approved Defensive Driving Course.

The DA will be pushing for legislation that will: make an out-of-state
DWI conviction a predicate for an in-state felony; allow for any
medically capable personnel to draw blood for evidentiary purposes; the
creation of an aggravated DWI for higher BAC readings; the creation of a
charge between Manslaughter 2° and Murder 2° for
vehicular murders; the amendment of the sentencing laws to allow for
consecutive sentencing for multiple victims; saliva drug testing similar
to PBTs; revision of Vehicle and Traffic Law 214 to alleviate the
Crawford issue; and Black Box access in vehicles that have not created
commercially available software.

The DA’s office released the following list of changes in plea

Effective Immediately

.05//06 Non-alcohol Traffic Violation + 6-hour Toxicology/Driving

.07 Driving While Impaired (No deal) Cond – Discharge + Drinking
Driver Program, 90-day license suspension + fine

.08-.12 Plea to Driving While Impaired – Targeted Comm. Service –
Cond. Discharge, Drinking Driving Program, Fine, 90-day – Suspension of
license – Jail: 15 days for any failure to comply

.13/.14 Plea to Misdemeanor DWI (No deal) – Recommendation – Comm.
Service – Cond. Discharge + Drinking Driving Program, Fine, 6-month
license – revocation – Jail: 30 days for any failure to comply

.15/.16 Plea to Misdemeanor DWI (No deal) – Recommendation: Probation,
Fine, Ignition – Interlock, Drinking Driver Program, 6-month license

.17-.20 Plea to Misdemeanor DWI (No deal) – Recommendation: 10 days
STOP-DWI Jail, Drinking Driving Program, Comm. Service, Victim Impact
Panel, Ignition Interlock, 6-month license revocation

.21+ Plea to Misdemeanor DWI (No deal) – Recommendation: STOP-DWI Jail
or Jail – Split (RAPP Probation), mandatory treatment (devised by
STOP-DWI and RAPP), Fine, Comm. Service, Victim Impact Panel, ignition
interlock 6-month, license revocation (must have NO ability to obtain a
license for RAPP probation)

Refusal: Treated as .13-.16 with Victim Impact Panel Second Alcohol
Incident: Misdemeanor, treat as .21+ Second Incident over .12 or Third
Incident: Felony Now considering all priors, regardless of time lapse
(previously it was a ten-year limit)

Felony: All pleas require the forfeiture of an eligible vehicle.
Sentences should include “no driving as a condition of
probation until treatment is completed and probation clears the defendant
for re-application for a licenseâ€. All pleas with a probation
component MUST include an ignition interlock device, RAPP Probation and
attendance at Victim Impact Panel.


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