Gov. Paterson toughens drunk driving laws

Gov. David Paterson proposed a new law Thursday that reinforces drunk driving laws for those who drink and drive with a child in the car.

Under Paterson?s new proposed law, a first time offender of drunken driving will be sentenced to four years behind bars and a suspended license whether the child was injured or not. The current law states that people who drive drunk with a child in the car are charged with a misdemeanor.

Paterson?s proposal was announced just weeks after the July tragedy on the Taconic Parkway where Diane Schuler drove in the wrong lane. Police say she had a blood alcohol level of .19, the equivalent of 10 drinks. Eight people died in the crash including her young daughter, three nieces and three Yonkers men.

There were nearly 9,500 drunken driving accidents in New York in 2007 as well as 344 deaths. Two hundred of those killed and injured were under the age of 14.

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