Repeat drunk drivers in New York could be facing tougher consequences under a proposed legislation passed by the state Legislature last week. The new bill increases consequences for some repeat offenders by increasing the look back period in which a third or subsequent DWI offense can be charged as a class D felony.
Under New York’s current drunk driving laws, repeat drunk drivers who commit a third or subsequent offense within 10 years are charged with a class D felony, which carries a fine of up to $10,000, a prison sentence of up to seven years, and a minimum driver’s license revocation period of one year. That means if a repeat drunk driver commits two DWI offenses within 10 years and a third or subsequent DWI offense after that 10-year period, he or she may face only a misdemeanor charge carrying a fine of up to $1,000, a prison sentence of up to one year, and a minimum license suspension of six months.
Under the New York Legislature-passed bill, repeat drunk drivers who commit a third or subsequent offense within 15 years will be charged with a class D felony, allowing less repeat drunk drivers to get away with a misdemeanor charge when they should be facing a felony charge. Repeat drunk drivers charged with a class D felony would also face up to 15 years in prison.
Known as Vince’s Law, the proposed legislation was created after 82-year-old Vincent Russo was killed by a repeat drunk driver in 2011. The drunk driver who caused the crash had four prior DWI convictions within 17 years of the crash and was awaiting sentencing for a fifth DWI offense at the time of the crash, according to bill sponsor Senator John A. DeFrancisco. DeFrancisco created the bill with the help of Paul Russo, Vincent’s brother, because he believes repeat drunk drivers like the one who killed Vincent shouldn’t be on the road.
The bill has been passed by both the Assembly and the Senate and now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for consideration and, hopefully, a signature.