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Repeat DWI penalties strengthened

Tuesday, August 05, 2014 - Updated: 5:48 PM

ALBANY -- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has signed legislation that increases penalties for repeat DWI offenders.

Vince's Law is an amendment to current law that makes three DWI-related convictions within 15 years an automatic felony with a maximum determinate prison sentence of up to seven years and a fine of up to $10,000. Previously such repeat offenses might not have been prosecuted as felonies at all.

It takes effect Nov. 1.

"Motorists who repeatedly drive drunk are a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road, and they have no place behind the wheel," Cuomo said. "Vince's Law will keep these reckless individuals out of the driver's seat and help prevent future tragedies from occurring."

Named after Vincent Russo, who died after being struck head-on in the Syracuse area by a driver with multiple DWIs, Vincent's Law aims to keep repeat offenders off the road. In Russo's case, the offending driver had five prior DWI offenses and was not yet incarcerated.

Sponsor Senator John DeFrancisco said, "Vincent Russo was tragically killed by a drunk driver, whose blood-alcohol content was four times the legal limit, and was free awaiting sentencing for a fifth DWI violation. Repeatedly driving while intoxicated is a very serious risk to all citizens on our highways, and this bill will help to address the issue by increasing penalties for repeat offenders."

Sponsor Assemblyman Samuel Roberts said, "Too many innocent lives of New Yorkers were taken because of those who chose to drink and drive. I am happy to have sponsored Vince's Law, which will keep drivers with multiple DWI convictions off the roads."


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