Updated: 12/27/2013 6:26 PM
Created: 12/27/2013 5:18 PM WHEC.com
By: Chalonda Roberts
State lawmakers are working to make the roads safer for you. They're drumming up new support for three bills related to DWI.
The biggest changes would toughen penalties for repeat offenders and lower the current alcohol level for a DWI charge to 0.05 from the current 0.08.
Between November 1 and December 26, trooper say they made more than 160 drunk driving arrests. In Monroe County, there were 91 arrests and 38 arrests in Ontario County.
Based on those new numbers, law enforcement continues to crack down on drunk driving and so are some lawmakers. They want even harsher penalties for people who choose to drink and drive.
News10NBC spoke with local Senator Joe Robach and Senator Patrick Gallivan, who represents part of Livingston County, both support three bills to toughen drunk driving laws in New York State. Those bills have already passed the New York Senate. Now it's up to the New York Assembly.
The first one addresses repeat offenders. If a driver has already been convicted of DWI three separate times and then is involved in a deadly crash, the crime would then be elevated from vehicular manslaughter to vehicular homicide. That raises the punishment to a Class B felony, which could mean up to 25 years in jail.
Senator Joe Robach said, “Nothing is more frustrating than that someone who has already gone through the system been convicted gone through a program tried to be rehabilitated then goes out and does it again doesn't heed the warning and has total disregard for peoples lives.”
The second bill addresses leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it. The bill was inspired in part by the death of Fairport teacher Heather Boyum , who was stuck by an impaired motorcyclist on Route 250 in the summer of 2012. As it stands right now, a driver could use drunkenness is a defense to say they did not know they were involved in an accident.
Senator Patrick Gallivan said, “So this would close that loophole and if it was leaving the scene of an accident that was personal injury or death it would be a felony. If it were property damage then it would be a misdemeanor.”
The third bill would amend the definition of intoxication. Right now, a driver can only be charged with DWI is they are impaired by alcohol. The proposed legislation would define intoxication as a state of mind and drivers would be charged with DWI regardless of substance. An example would be over the counter drugs.
The Senate is pushing the assembly to pass all three bills.