By Enza Macherone
As seen with the tragic death of Sean Murphy ‘13 in March, drunk driving injures and kills thousands of people each year, with 9,878 fatalities occurring in 2011. In New York, an initiative to reduce the number of repeat drunk drivers has resulted in 3,164 potential offenders being kept off the road since last September.
According to MADD, 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.
This poses a threat because the likelihood of a repeat offender driving drunk puts innocent motorists and pedestrians at risk.
In an article from WNYT, it was reported that “the Department of Motor Vehicles says it has reviewed 3,891 applications for relicensing from individuals with more than two alcohol or drug-related driving offenses on their record, with 1,658 permanently denied relicensing and some 1,500 others denied relicensing for another five years.”
Mark Fusco, who was charged in April for aggravated DWI, aggravated vehicular manslaughter and second-degree manslaughter, had a BAC of .20 during the crash that killed Murphy in March. Fusco was released on $10,000 bail on April 1.
It is unclear at this time if his license will be suspended or revoked, or if his employment as a police officer will be terminated.
In accordance with the new New York State initiative, he may be required to install an ignition interlock device in his vehicle to check for intoxication before the car is turned on.
Due to the new crackdown on repeat offenders, only 699 of the people who had two or more offenses were relicensed, but all were required to install the ignition interlock device. Most were also issued restricted licenses to limit their driving capabilities to work and similar commutes.
Because Union students mainly live on or within walking distance from campus, it is difficult to determine the frequency with which students drive while intoxicated.
According to SUNY Albany’s website, in 2012 there were 20 DWI incidents reported involving SUNY Albany students. SUNY Albany has a high population of students living off-campus and in the surrounding communities. Similar statistics were not available on Union’s website.
At this point in time, few initiatives on campus focus on avoiding drunk driving. However, with the state’s increased regulations, it is hopeful that another situation as occurred with Murphy will be avoided.