PLATTSBURGH — Since her son was killed by a drunk driver more than six years ago, Nora Montanaro-Davis has made it her mission to educate people about DWI dangers.
"This is my chance of making something good out of something horrific," she said. "I want people to be more aware of the consequences of getting behind the wheel intoxicated."
She was recently named Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) president for the Northern Adirondack Region.
While advocating for the rights of victims, MADD also takes a stance against underage drinking and many kinds of illegal driving, including driving while texting and with a suspended license.
Montanaro-Davis hopes to see a day when those who kill someone while driving drunk or with a suspended license are charged with murder, not manslaughter.
She referenced the part of State Penal Law that defines murder as "a depraved indifference to human life" in which the perpetrator "recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person."
Drunken driving falls into that category, she said, and she argues that unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle does as well, since people choose to drive when they have already lost the privilege due to violating the law.
SPEAK IN SCHOOLS
A professor at SUNY Plattsburgh, Montanaro-Davis is working with the college population and hopes to link with area schools so she can reach young people before they make the decision to drink and drive.
She also wants to partner with law-enforcement agencies, with the goal of changing the way members of the public view police.
Police don't exist to punish the public but to keep people safe, Montanaro-Davis said.
"They're there to protect us. They're there to help us. I would love it if schools, troopers and law enforcement invited me to speak."