In New York, as in other states, different types of charges result from operating different types of motorized vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. For example, if an individual is operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol they will be charged with a BWI, or boating while intoxicated. Drunk driving behind the wheel of a car results in a DWI while a snowmobile will result in an SWI.
Under New York law, if an individual who already has a DWI gets another DWI, then those instances are linked to each other and that individual is subject to increased penalties. However, if an individual already has an SWI, or a BWI and then gets a DWI those instances are not linked and therefore the new charge is treated as a first instance rather than a repeat offense. But, New York residents may be interested to learn that this may all be changing with the introduction of a new bill that is aimed at strengthening drunk driving laws.
The new bill is called Tiffany's Law. It is named after a Syracuse woman who was killed about seven years ago while she was a passenger on a boat. The boat was operated by an intoxicated individual. Although the driver of the boat had a record of incidents involving alcohol and automobiles, those charges were not linked with boating while intoxicated. Therefore, the driver was charged with a first offense.
Under Tiffany's Law, a person who is charged with driving while intoxicated, for example, will be charged as a repeat offender if his or her past record includes a DWI, SWI, BWI or drunkenly operating an ATV.
When an individual is charged as a repeat offender the potential consequences become increasingly severe. These punishments may include revocation of his or her driver's license, prison or jail time or monetary fines. This bill has passed the Senate and has made it into the Assembly. New Yorkers may want to keep their ears open for a result as this will drastically impact drunk driving sentences going forward.
Source: Northcountrynow.com, "Senate passes bill to link all drunk driving convictions as priors, including on snowmobiles, boats, ATVs," Feb. 12, 2013