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Erie County DA Flaherty: Drink and drive, lose your ride

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Mon, Aug 29th 2016 04:15 pm

New DWI policy calls for taking away car after second felony DWI arrest

Coincides with upcoming busy holiday travel weekend

Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr. announced his office will be implementing a new driving while intoxicated policy that calls for confiscating the vehicle of anyone who is facing a second felony DWI arrest.

The DWI forfeiture policy is being instituted at DA's offices across New York to act as a deterrent to drunk driving by taking away the defendant's "instrument" to carry out the crime.

To be charged with felony DWI, the driver has to have any one of the following:

  • Prior DWI conviction within 10 years;
  • Three DWI convictions in 15 years; or
  • Or has been arrested for violating Leandra's Law by driving drunk with a child age 15 or under in the vehicle.

"Unfortunately, we see too many DWI offenders, even those who have had their driver's license taken away, still get back behind the wheel drunk, "Flaherty said. "This new policy goes a step further in keeping the repeat offenders from putting themselves and others in danger on the roads."

The start of this new policy in Erie County coincides with the upcoming Labor Day weekend, one of the busiest times of the year for drunk and drugged driving fatalities.

Under the new DWI policy, vehicles that are owned or are primarily driven by offenders arrested on a second felony DWI may be seized, subject to forfeiture, and then auctioned off by Erie County. Proceeds from the sale of the vehicle will go toward DWI enforcement, and a portion will go to the state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services.

Impaired driving arrests in Erie County have dropped over the past three years, but Flaherty said there is still a lot of work to do.

"There are still people out there who repeatedly drink and drive," he noted. "This new policy adds more serious consequences and helps drive home the message that it will not be tolerated."

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