Giglio: Bill Will Strengthen D.W.I. Penalties

Assemblyman Joe Giglio (R,I,C-Gowanda) today said motorists convicted of driving while intoxicated can expect stiffer punishment after Thursday’s passage of an Assembly bill to toughen penalties when a victim of drunk driving is injured or killed as a result of a crash.

Giglio, active in anti-D.W.I. programs in Erie and Cattaraugus counties, says that all too often drunk drivers cause unthinkable suffering for families in this state.

In July 2005, Katie Flynn and Stan Rabinowitz were killed on Long Island when a drunk driver crashed into a limousine that was taking them home following a family wedding. Flynn was just 7 years old at the time.

Martin Heidgen was convicted of murder for having exhibited depraved indifference to human life, as he drove north for more than two miles in a southbound lane on a divided highway. He registered a blood alcohol level of 0.28, more than three times the legal limit in New York state.

The bill targets those, like Heidgen, who engage in reckless driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs where someone is killed and makes vehicular homicide punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Aggravated vehicular assault would be punishable by up to 15 years under the new law.

The law would also apply to drivers who cause a fatal crash and are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and have a blood alcohol content of more than 0.18 or have been convicted of a D.W.I. within the last 10 years.

“This law will take drivers off the road who have exhibited such dangerous irresponsibility,” said Giglio. “I am proud to support this legislation and will continue to fight for laws that make penalties for driving while intoxicated even tougher.”