Horrific tragedies are a common catalyst for change in our laws and procedures, particularly in drunk driving cases. While sometimes and emotional response can result in an over-reaction that is out of proportion with the facts, there are other situation where a truly heartbreaking situation demonstrates a loophole that needs to be addressed.
Several weeks ago, New York mother and wife Diane Schuler caused a deadly accident on the Taconic State Parkway. The accident killed 3 men in the other vehicle as well as Schuler herself and 4 children that were riding in her vehicle.
After the accident, the autopsy revealed Schuler had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .17 percent, over twice the legal limit. According to this article from the Times, she also had alcohol in her stomach, yet to be metabolized. Lastly, she was determined to be high on marijuana.
Last week the New York Times revealed Governor Paterson had introduced legislation to make driving while intoxicated a serious felony when there are children in the car. 35 states already charge drunk drivers operating with minors or children under 14 in the car, with with aggravated or extreme felony DWI charges. New York is behind the curve on this type of legislation.
The new laws would make a DWI offender considered a “serious offender”, even for a first time DWI charge. This would equate to tougher sentences and potential repercussions.
In addition, in situations where a child is seriously injured or killed through vehicular assault or homicide, the offense would be considered a “serious violent felony”.
As stated, the majority of states in our nation consider having children in the vehicle while driving under the influence to be a much more serious charge than DWI without children. In some states parents can be charged with child abuse or endangerment in situations like this.
DWI charges are a serious matter no matter who is in the vehicle, though. If it is your first DWI case you may find the judge to be slightly more lenient. However, if you have been in the courtroom before for another DUI case, you will definitely see a difference when it comes to sentencing time.
Having an attorney that is willing to completely examine and address all of the evidence against you is crucial when facing any criminal charges. Call me today so we can discuss the particulars of your DWI case. I have handled many such cases in NY courts and want to be the attorney to help with yours.