Editorial: New DWI penalty most welcome - Press-Republican: Opinion

Editorial: New DWI penalty most welcome

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Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 3:25 am

The New York State Legislature is to be thanked for legislation expected to intensify the penalty for repeated drunken-driving offenses.

Specifically, the proposed law would turn driving while intoxicated from a misdemeanor into a felony upon the third conviction within 15 years.

The penalty for that series of convictions would then become up to seven years in prison and a $10,000 fine. That should go much further to inhibit that kind of behavior than laws currently in place.

It is simply too easy to not take precautions that would forestall DWI. Rides in taxis, rides with friends or family, making prior arrangements if you intend to be somewhere where you will be drinking are all within such easy reach.

And let’s face it: It is just plain embarrassing to be arrested for DWI. Your name will be in the newspaper, if it is a felony, and on radio newscasts for an infraction that is now so widely frowned upon.

We all know by now that alcohol addiction is a disease, not just a weakness. The disease can be treated, if the victim is willing to admit to it.

But, even if the person is not willing to take the steps necessary toward a cure, staying away from the driver’s seat is the very least that must be done.

Society has truly turned against the drunk driver, as it has against the abuser of tobacco.

Some people at the Press-Republican can recall, three decades ago, an editor by the name of Bert Walter, whose 9-year-old son was riding his bicycle on a road near his home in Morrisonville when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver. That driver had had no fewer than a dozen previous arrests.

Fortunately, the days of that kind of winking and nodding by the judicial system seem to be over. Cuomo’s signature will dramatically and forcefully underscore that.

The new measure is being called Vince’s Law, in reference to a man killed in suburban Syracuse by a driver with five previous offenses.

The police said that driver’s blood-alcohol content was four times the legal limit. Think about it: The legal limit is 0.08 percent, which signifies that amount of alcohol in the blood can muddy a person’s ability to do what needs to be done to safely drive a motor vehicle. A person with four times that amount can barely function.

We’re all for the state doing whatever it can to intimidate drinkers from driving.

The law doesn’t say don’t drink. It just says make other arrangements for transportation when you do.

It’s not that hard.

 

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