2005-05-06 / Front Page

Pheffer: Tougher Penalties For Driving Drunk

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer has announced the Assembly passed bipartisan legislation that she sponsored to toughen the penalties for individuals who cause accidents under the influence of drugs or alcohol in New York State.

“Dangerous drivers who harm others should face severe penalties,” said Pheffer. “This legislation toughens the laws so that those who injure or kill another person because they were driving intoxicated or impaired by drugs are held responsible.”

The legislation strengthens the penalties for vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter when serious physical injury or death is caused by a person driving drunk or impaired by drugs (A.6285-B/S.1872-B). The legislation eliminates the element of criminal negligence currently required to prosecute these crimes – making it easier to indict individuals who commit them.

The bill, known as VaSean’s Law, is named for 11-year-old VaSean Phillip Alleyne of New York City, who was killed in an accident last year by a motorist charged with drunk driving.

More than one-third of New York’s nearly 1,500 traffic deaths in 2003 involved alcohol-impaired drivers, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Nationally in 2002, 17,419 people died in alcohol-related traffic accidents – an average of one death every 30 minutes.

“Drivers who get behind the wheel drunk or impaired by drugs show a callous disregard for human life,” Pheffer said. “This legislation gives law enforcement and prosecutors another tool to combat and punish dangerous drivers.”

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