(Editor's note: 'Safety on the Roads' appears on Page A2 of today's paper, instead of Page A5, due to a special photo collage of the 1980 Winter Olympics staff, provided by columnist Howard Riley.)
New and tougher DWI laws took effect on December 18, 2009 in New York State, already one of the toughest states on impaired driving.
The new law makes it a class E felony offense if convicted of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated if a child 15 years old and under is a passenger in the vehicle. The charge for this offense is called "Aggravated DWI/Child in Vehicle" and is the same as driving with a blood/alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.18 or more.
A person convicted of Aggravated DWI/Child in Vehicle is subject to the same license sanctions as a person convicted of Aggravated DWI/per se, that is, a minimum of one year revocation for a first offense and 18 months for a second offense committed within 10 years. In addition, there are significant fines plus court surcharges, and/or jail time. There are also restrictions to plea bargaining and mandatory screening and assessment in accordance to previous Vehicle and Traffic Laws.
Under the new law, if the operator of the vehicle is a parent or guardian, the arresting officer must also report the incident in accordance with social services law.
The new law also provides that a court MUST sentence a person so convicted to a period of probation or to a conditional discharge, a condition of which must be the installation and use of an ignition interlock device in any vehicle owned or operated by such person. This device must remain in the vehicle for at least six months, and the person convicted must pay all the costs of this installation. Furthermore, should the defendant be caught operating a motor vehicle without the court ordered ignition interlock, he/she will be cited for a class A misdemeanor.
Go to the Traffic Safety Board's Web site at www.franklincony.org. Use the pull-down menu to find the TSB under departments, and go to the "Did You Know" articles for more information on DWI and many other subjects.