New York State to Get More Aggressive in BWI Penalties

NYS governor Mario Cuomo signed a bill into law on Tuesday that requires courts to consider prior intoxication and impaired driving convictions during BWI sentencing.  The new law requires a judge to consider prior DWIs and DWAIs that occurred within a 10-year period for any 180-day BWAI sentence.

Cuomo’s office stated the purpose of the new law is to is to crack down on repeat intoxicated machine operation offenders, whether on land or on the water.  The new law is dubbed the “Tiffany Heitkamp’s Law” in memory of an Upstate New York woman who was killed during a boating while intoxicated accident and was backed by NYS Assemblyman William Magnarelli and State Senator John DeFrancisco.  Ms. Heitkamp’s death was caused by man with a history of alcohol related car accidents but was charged as a first time offender due to their being no link between DWI and BWI incidents at the time.

"Whether behind the wheel of a car or a boat, drunk drivers are a danger to themselves and a menace to others," Cuomo said of the new law. "This new law closes this loophole and will help keep these dangerous individuals off our roads and waterways, avoiding more senseless tragedies."

The new law is set to go into effect starting in November of 2016.