Shelly: We Were Always Tough On Drunks

ALBANY—As senators attacked the Assembly for unsuccessfully trying to “water down” Leandra’s Law, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he was at the forefront of cracking down on drunk drivers all along.

The bill–named after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who died at the hands of a drunk driver–was set to be considered last week, but Silver’s staff advanced a bill which would have not made it a felony to drive with a child passenger if the driver’s BAC is less than .18. The agreed-upon bill contains this provision.

“My conference did not print a .18. The logic was that current law makes a distinction between .08 and .18,” Silver said at a press conference to announce the “toughest DWI law in nation.”

“The initial thought was we raise a penalty on all counts,” Silver said. “After deliberation, and meetings with Lenny Rosado, we determined we would bump up the .08 one more step. We always had the most significant piece of this legislation: we had an unconditional interlock device in our legislation from day one.”

“We have not changed that provision. We have no out in it. It is mandated, and it must be. There are no outs. When you plead to a DWI violation, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, there is a mandatory interlock provision. That will save immediately more lives,” he continued. Chuck Hurley, the CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, agreed.

Silver said that if David Paterson sends a bill to his chamber today–parliamentary rigmarole dictates that he must, because this is an “extraordinary session”–it will be considered (and almost certainly pass). State Senators held an impromptu press conference before Silver’s to rejoice in the agreement, but did not commit to immediate passage. Shelly: We Were Always Tough On Drunks