NY senators vote to require blood-alcohol tests for all drivers in serious crashes

Created: 05/06/2014 6:00 PM WHEC.com
By: Rebecca Fath

There could soon be some big changes for drivers involved in a bad accident. It's a controversial idea that's causing some to raise their eyebrows.

State senators have voted to require blood-alcohol tests from all drivers involved in any serious crash. That means police would have to test drivers, whether they’re drunk or not following accidents when someone is seriously injured or killed.

This issue is bringing up some mixed opinions.

Peter Navratil was angry at the man who killed his mother more than a decade ago in a drunk driving crash. 

It's for grieving families that Senator Joe Robach says is the reason he pushed a bill to require alcohol testing for all involved drivers when someone is seriously injured or killed in a crash.

Senator Joe Robach said, “I think this will help not only victims, but also send even more of a message that if you're drinking and driving and you cause injury, you're going to be held accountable and pay the price.”

Navratil said, “It sends a message to everybody, if you drink and drive and you're in an accident, your blood is going to be tested for alcohol. If there's alcohol in your blood, that's going to be a problem for you. That's probably a good thing.”

But others disagree

George Wallace, Rochester resident, said, “I think it's very likely unconstitutional because there's no probable cause and therefore, the government is taking away some of my liberties and privacy when there's no cause.”

Currently, police can test someone's blood alcohol level at the scene of a crash if they suspect that person is over the legal limit. This law would require everyone involved to be tested; even if there's no evidence they're drunk.

It's an issue that's close to Navratil's heart.

Navratil said, “I accept my mom’s gone and I miss her terribly, but it is the way that it is and I don’t have a choice over that.”

The Senate passed the bill Monday. It now moves to the Assembly for a vote.

The law specifically defines a serious physical injury, “An injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes death or serious and protracted  disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ."  

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