Revolving Door Keeps Spinning for City’s Drunk Drivers
Advocates, lawmakers and families of drunken-driving victims said the shockingly low number of jail sentences shows courts go too easy on offenders and do little to discourage recidivism. The claim is bolstered by state data showing 17 percent of arrested drunken drivers in 2008 had already had a DWI arrest in the past five years.
"Statistics seem to show that all too often, there is no effort to put these people behind bars," said state Sen. Craig Johnson (D-LI).
The numbers alone are startling enough, but the implications for traffic justice in the city are even more grave. As we've learned, it took a mammoth effort to get Albany to approve tougher penalties for drunk drivers, though such behavior had decades before come to be considered taboo among Americans at large. Now, as advocates and prosecutors in other jurisdictions are taking the next steps -- working to strengthen penalties against deadly drivers who aren't under the influence while vigorously prosecuting those who are -- the mindset of New York City enforcers apparently remains entrenched in the past.
When being caught driving drunk in pedestrian-populated New York City still means a slap on the wrist and a pat on the back, how long before we can expect justice for those injured and killed by drivers whose negligence isn't abetted by alcohol?