10/16/2009 12:06:24 PM

What: 

Westchester County Board Chairman Bill Ryan (D, WFP-White Plains) has called for a public hearing on proposed legislation that would require the forfeiture of vehicles for those convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or while engaged in unlawful speed contests or races throughout Westchester County.  Westchester residents will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on this proposed law during the next scheduled Board meeting.
 

Who:

Speakers to attend are (still in formation):

  • Westchester County Board Chairman Bill Ryan (D,WFP-White Plains)
  • Members of the County Board
  • Members of the public

Where:   

 Westchester County Board of Legislators Chambers

800 Michaelian Office Building
148 Martine Avenue, 8th Floor (corner of Court Street)
White Plains, NY
 

When: 

 Monday, October 19th, 2009 at 7:30pm SHARP!  **REVISED START TIME***
 

Why:

Currently, twenty states permit the confiscation of vehicles for DWI offenses, with New York City, Nassau and Suffolk counties, specifically within New York State.  Most of them are for second offenses or more. Within the last four years, Westchester County has seen a steady increase in DWI/DUI arrests.  According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, adult arrests in Westchester County for felony and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated (“DWI”) offenses rose from 2,337 in 2002 to 2,650 in 2007.  The Westchester County Department of Probation reports that DWI cases represent the largest percentage of their total cases – 23 percent.  Additionally, it has been reported that nationwide, 17,000 people die each year in alcohol-related accidents; 80 percent involve recidivist drunk drivers. 

Legislator Peter Harckham (D-Katonah) – the primary sponsor of this legislation – has worked to build a bipartisan coalition of legislators that has debated the details of this bill within the Committees of Legislation and Public Safety for over a year and has worked to add several constitutional protections for due process.  On the heels on the tragic deaths of members of the Bastardi and Schuler families on the Taconic Parkway, the Board has found that while larger fines, longer license suspensions, and increased jail sentences may deter some offenders, a stronger deterrent is necessary to protect the public.  According to the National Transportation Safety Board, civil forfeiture of motor vehicles laws serve as a deterrent to recidivism may reduce first-time offenses and will send a stern message that driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs will not be tolerated in Westchester County. 

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