The New York State Senate passed legislation sponsored by state Sen. John DeFrancisco that would create a new penalty for drivers convicted of multiple driving while intoxicated offenses.
DeFrancisco's bill, "Vince's Law," would create a new class C felony for drivers convicted of three or more DWIs over a 25-year span. Under this new penalty, if a driver is convicted of three or more DWIs in a 25-year period, they face up to 15 years in prison.
Right now, tougher punishments only apply to those with multiple DWI convictions within a 10-year period.
"Under current law, judges and district attorneys have a great deal of leeway in imposing sentences on people convicted of DWI," DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, said. "Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense and the penalties for these violations should reflect that. This bill would address repeat drunk drivers by requiring them to face increased penalties, including mandatory jail time."
The legislation is named for Vincent Russo. Russo, an Onondaga County man, was killed by a drunk driver in 2011. The driver, Michael Iannettoni, had five previous DWI-related convictions, according to DeFrancisco's office.
"Vincent Russo was killed by a drunk driver on his way to Sunday morning mass. The driver, Michael Iannettoni, whose blood alcohol content was four times the legal limit, was free awaiting sentencing for a fifth DWI violation. It is a complete outrage that Iannettoni was not behind bars, and that his sixth DWI offense resulted in a tragedy that should have been avoided. Hopefully, this legislation will be passed in both houses to try to prevent future tragedies of this nature."
DeFrancisco's bill, S4267, passed by a vote of 57-0. The bill will now to go the Assembly for review.