Governor David Paterson introduced legislation Thursday increasing the penalties for drunk drivers who have children in their car, in the wake of a crash on the Taconic State Parkway.
Under the proposed legislation, first-time offenders would be required to install devices to prevent their cars from starting.
Repeat offenders would be subject to prison time, and intoxicated drivers who kill a child under age 17 would face up to 25 years in prison.
"We don't connote that they have any decision-making capacity," said Paterson. "And even if they thought that they didn't want to get in a car with a drunk driver, it could be some custodial parent or supervising personnel where they wouldn't have the choice."
"[Mothers Against Drunk Driving] is proud to support the governor in his proposal because the time is now that New York adopts a child endangerment law which finally makes drunk driving with a child in the car the serious crime that it should be," said Debbie Weir of MADD.
This comes less than three weeks after police say Diana Schuler was drunk and high on marijuana when she drove the wrong way and crashed into an SUV. Schuler, her daughter and three nieces, as well as three men in the other vehicle died.
Her five-year-old son Bryan is the sole survivor of the crash. He suffered severe head injuries and has begun rehab at Saint Mary's Hospital for Children in Flushing.
The state Legislature could consider the bill as early as next month.