State senator proposes DWI-with-kids legislation

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A Long Island state senator Wednesday introduced legislation that would make it a felony to drive drunk with children in the car - a bill he said is more relevant than ever in light of the Taconic wrong-way crash last month.

Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick) said the bill would make driving drunk with children under 16 a class E felony punishable with a maximum of one to four years in prison.

-Click here to see the latest photos of the Taconic tragedy

Fuschillo said the bill, which is co-sponsored by Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), was in the works before Diane Schuler, of West Babylon, drove the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway on July 26 with what police said was the equivalent of 10 drinks in her system last month, killing eight people, including herself, her daughter and three nieces. But he said he hopes the Schuler tragedy will draw attention to the importance of the legislation.

"If you're going to drive drunk with a child held hostage in the car, if you're convicted you should face hard time," Fuschillo said.

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who has worked with Fuschillo in the past on similar legislation, said driving drunk with children in the car is different from driving drunk with adult passengers. For one thing, children are usually not in a position to grab the keys or to call a cab for themselves, she said.

Fuschillo worked with Rice and Weisenberg to introduce a bill, still pending, that would require convicted drunken drivers to blow into a device to test for alcohol to make the car start. The three also teamed up to create a new drunken driving charge, aggravated vehicular homicide, increasing the penalties for drivers who kill someone while drunk or on drugs.

-Click here to see the latest photos of the Taconic tragedy

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