Is New York’s Proposed Tougher DUI-Causing-Death Law Meaningful?

By Mary Ann

New York lawmakers reached a deal with Governor Eliot Spitzer to pass tougher penalties for drivers convicted of DUI causing a death. Called “Katie’s Law,” the new law would create the crime of aggravated vehicular homicide.

The new DUI law would carry a sentence of at least 1 year in prison and a maximum of 25 years when a driver is convicted of DUI causing a death and one of these other factors: a second death or serious injury, a prior DUI (DWI in New York) conviction, a blood-alcohol level of 0.18 percent or higher, or driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Currently, a driver who has caused a death while DUI can only be charged with second-degree manslaughter, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The increase from a maximum of 15 years to 25 years is not likely to prevent a severally intoxicated person from DUI.