Will stricter penalties mean safer roads?

By Michelle Costanza

January 11, 2014 Updated Jan 11, 2014 at 12:51 AM EDT

Town of Dickinson, NY (WBNG Binghamton) In addition to thousands of dollars in fees and in some cases, jail time, repeat DWI offenders may be kicked off the road for good.

In Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State Address Wednesday, he noted that 47,000 drivers with three or more drunk driving convictions are still on the road.

"That is absurd," Cuomo said.

His new proposal calls for a five-year license suspension for those who are convicted of drunk driving twice in three years. Three convictions would lead to a permanent suspension.

Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen said while more and more people are planning for designated drivers, the one thing that has not changed in the past two decades is the behavior of repeat offenders.

"We have reached a plateau with those kinds of drivers. That's what's really stopped the progress," explained Mollen.

Though repeat offenders are the targets of the newest law proposal, several other penalties and changes have come about in the past few years for anyone who is caught drinking and driving.

There is no longer a separation of DWI, DWAI, and felony DWI.

"You now have aggravating factors, .08 to .17, you're going to be DWI. If you have mitigating factors such as your blood-alcohol level is .18 or above, it's aggravated DWI," said Sgt. Shaun Carnevale of the Broome County Sheriff's Office.

Carnevale said people need to realize just how much is at stake before they get behind the wheel, as just one conviction could end up costing over $10,000 through penalties, not including license suspension and jail time.

"We've given them every warning under the sun. If more penalties can save lives, then that's your husbands, wives, sisters -- living," Mollen said.

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