A common practice that could become law in New York: testing for DWI on the scene of a bad car crash. In 2012, 21 accidents in Clinton County, New York, resulting in fatality or serious injuries were alcohol-related.
Current law states that officers are allowed to test drivers suspected of DWI after crashes like that.
A new law approved in the New York State Senate could make it mandatory.
“I know of many different places where it would have fit just because of the simple fact that you now have the ability to say you're mandated to give this blood alcohol,” said Sgt. Frank Mercier, Clinton County’s Stop DWI Coordinator.
The bill, passed on Tuesday in the New York State Senate, would make it mandatory to test drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol and who are at fault for an accident that results in serious injury or death.
Sgt. Mercier hopes this will lessen the need for a court order in these situations.
“If it's 3am, you have to contact the Judge, you have to do the paperwork, and it just makes for the window of opportunity to dissipate,” said Sgt. Mercier.
Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie says responders in his county are already testing drivers in these cases.
“But it will allow the officers to take the next step where maybe they don't have the probable cause. It's giving them another avenue, but it will still be basically a check and balance,” said Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie.
As a prosecutor, he expects to see the law tested in court if it passes, specifically because it would require testing after a crash causing "serious injury" which could be considered subjective.
“That's really the element that's going to come into question I think, in the court system down the road. if that legislation does get passed, then the prosecutors across the state are going to have to deal with that,” said Wylie.
The bill has now been sent to the New York Assembly where North Country Assemblywoman Janet Duprey is a co-sponsor.
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