Why Those Arrested for DWI Aren't Facing Tough Penalties
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) In Erie County, 2,600 people are arrested each year for misdemanor DWI. It turns out only 17 percent of those charged with the misdemeanor are convicted of that charge. The Erie County president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving says look to the county's judges.
"It's shameful to all the victims that have been killed or injured by a drunk driver," says Obad. She says too many judges get lenient with drunk driving offenders. "Too many judges are giving the reduced plea which means they don't have the misdemanor, and they go on down the road and don't get the felony with the next misdemanor." Obad believes some judges sympathize with offenders, usually first time offenders with a clean record. "If the judges are looking at them and saying it's too punitive, it's not punitive enough to send a strong message it's not ok to drink and drive," says Obad. New York State has some of the highest penalties for DWI.
Obad says she tries to monitor courts and needs volunteers for that. "What we need to do is find out all the rates of convictions of all the judges in Erie County. Let people take a look at that and when it's time to vote, don't re-elect those who are lenient," suggests Obad.
Obad says it become frustrating to families of drunk driving victims why pleas are accepted and those charged with the crime end up with light penalties.