Saratoga County proposes charging drunken drivers a fee for taking part in mandatory victims impact panel
Release Date: January 11, 2011
By LUCIAN McCARTY
People who drive drunk in Saratoga County may be paying a little more in the coming year.
Currently, the county does not charge for a mandatory DWI/DWAI victims impact panel in which people affected by DWI-related crashes speak to groups of convicted drunken drivers.
“People who have lost a loved one in a drunk driving case —it’s almost a funeral service for them,” Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III said. “It absolutely drains them.”
Murphy and Wes Carr from the Youth Bureau presented the Saratoga County Public Safety Committee on Tuesday with a fee schedule for the program which would allow them to provide speakers with a small stipend for their time. That means charging the drivers who end up in the classes.
“It’s very difficult for people to relive their stories time and time again,” Carr said.
The two men said Saratoga County is one of the last remaining New York counties to not institute a fee — somewhere around $25 to $30 — and that has been causing some people from neighboring counties to take their classes in Saratoga. They also said that a judge will be able to waive the fee for anyone who cannot pay it.
The panels generally bring in three or four speakers, including police, emergency medical technicians and victims and their family members.
The programs are designed to show drivers the impact they can have if they get behind the wheel inebriated.
“In this instance, they are the lucky ones,” Murphy said of the people attending the program. “They haven’t hurt anyone on the roads.” He said the ones who have are seldom in the classes because they are facing lengthy prison sentences.
Reach Lucian McCarty at firstname.lastname@example.org or 583-8729, ext. 221.
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