Over the past year, both lawmakers and law enforcement officials here in New York have been debating the issue of whether our state's traffic and DUI laws need to be strengthened to punish particularly dangerous behavior such as reckless driving or wrong-way drunk driving.
While this may seem like a somewhat narrow issue to focus on, consider that that there have been at least 27 wrong way driving collisions on Long Island since November 15, 2010, the day in which an off-duty NYPD officer was killed by a wrong-way drunk driver.
One state lawmaker who has been particularly vocal about calling for legislation making it a felony for motorists to drive the wrong-way or drive recklessly is Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick), whose proposed legislation was passed by the State Senate just a few weeks ago.
Fuschillo's Senate Bill 3452 (S 3452) would create a new class E felony charge for aggravated reckless driving punishable by up to four years in prison.
S 3452 would apply to the following people:
- Motorists who drive the wrong way against traffic either knowingly or because of their intoxication
- Motorists who drive 30 miles-per-hour over the speed limit while intoxicated or impaired
- Motorists who drive 30 miles-per-hour over the speed limit while weaving in traffic, racing or pursuing another vehicle
In addition to creating a new felony charge, Sen. Fuschillo's bill would also increase the penalties for reckless driving, elevating it from an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of up to 30 days in jail to a class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of up to a year in prison.
S 3452 now goes to the Assembly for a vote.
"The danger posed by wrong-way drivers is too serious to ignore, and this legislation provides an additional deterrent to those who put lives in danger when they act recklessly behind the wheel," said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. "This bill will help law enforcement make our roads safer and I strongly encourage the Assembly to pass it."
Stay tuned for more from our New York traffic law blog ...
Being arrested for DWI/DUI can have a serious impact on your life in a number of ways and result in various penalties. In fact, many of these penalties are much more serious than the mere license suspension or revocation.
When faced with this scenario, consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.
This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
News LI, "Felony charges created for wrong way and reckless drivers" Jan. 23, 2012