WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - As District Attorney and chief law enforcement officer in Westchester County, I am once again reminding drivers about the unlawful and deadly serious consequences of driving while intoxicated or impaired.
As the holidays approach, there will be additional DWI enforcement efforts put in place and, working with our partners in law enforcement, my office will aggressively prosecute each and every case involving a driver whose ability is impaired as a result of alcohol or drugs.
According to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, every year in New York, more than 300 people are killed and more than 6,000 people are injured in alcohol-related crashes. Experience has proven that crashes involving alcohol in our state are 10 times more likely to cause a fatality than crashes that do not involve alcohol. The toll of drinking and driving on individuals and their families in terms of loss of loved ones, life-changing injuries and economic damage is truly staggering.
Last year in Westchester County, three drunk drivers caused their own deaths as a result of their intoxication. Fortunately, no one else was injured in those crashes. A fourth intoxicated driver killed the passenger and injured the driver in a vehicle she hit while driving the wrong way on I-95. In that case, my office prosecuted the driver and secured convictions for vehicular manslaughter and assault, resulting in state prison time for the defendant.
Each year, we engage in pro-active and continuing education efforts to deliver this important public safety message: driving while intoxicated or impaired has deadly consequences. Yet every year, my office prosecutes several thousand cases involving drunk or impaired drivers. Since 2010, we have had 6,125 arrests for driving while intoxicated or impaired in Westchester County. Clearly, our work in getting through to drivers who use our public roadways must continue.
I am particularly concerned and troubled by the incidents of children in cars driven by drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol. We have seen the tragic results of such crashes in Westchester County and elsewhere, and those tragedies led to the passage of Leandra’s Law, making it a felony, even for first time offenders, to drive while intoxicated with a child 15 years of age or younger in the car. Since the law’s effective date in 2009, my office has prosecuted more than one hundred cases under Leandra’s Law. We have vigorously prosecuted drivers who drive drunk with children in their cars and achieved a 98% conviction rate. We take this behavior very seriously.
Please consider the legal and personal consequences for you, your family and all of the families of Westchester County if you drive while intoxicated or impaired. Join me this holiday season in keeping our roads, our communities and our celebrations safe.
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