At the start of the unofficial beginning of summer on May 24, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Harrison) came to White Plains to discuss her proposals to curb drunk and irresponsible driving,
Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, was joined last week by Westchester County Executive George Latimer, White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, White Plains Public Safety Commissioner David Chong, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving advocate Carole Sears, as well as White Plains police officers.
According to Lowey’s office, from 2013 to 2017, Westchester and Rockland lost 55 residents to alcohol-impaired driving.
“In addition to warm weather and fun in the pool and at the beach, the summer months also unfortunately bring the 100 deadliest days of the year for drunk driving,” Lowey said. “In 2017 an estimated 10,874 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in the United States. This horrifying statistic is amplified by this truth: drunk driving is 100 percent preventable. And while drunk driving even once is too many times, we should not allow convicted offenders to repeat those mistakes.”
Last week Lowey introduced the Impaired Driving Repeat Offender Prevention Act, legislation that would require the installation of an ignition interlock device for a minimum of 180 days on each motor vehicle operated by an individual convicted of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence. The device, which requires the driver to submit a breath sample before his car will start, has been successful in curbing repeat drunk driving offenses in many states that are already using ignition interlock devices, including New York, according to Lowey.
Lowey is also seeking federal funds to invest in modernizing drunk driving prevention technology through the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety program. The proposed fiscal year 2020 transportation spending bill includes over $5 million for the research and development program.
“Memorial Day weekend marks one of the busiest travel weekends of the year and while we want all our residents to get out and enjoy, we also want them to play it safe,” Latimer said. “I want to thank Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Westchester County police and our local law enforcement agencies for their coordinated effort to reduce the number of drunk and drugged driving-related deaths and injuries this weekend, and throughout the summer.”
“As we head into the busy summer travel season and look forward to road trips and get-togethers with family and friends, we need to also remember that safety must remain our biggest priority,” Roach said. “Congresswoman Lowey’s legislation, the Impaired Driving Repeat Offender Prevention Act, does just that. Representative Lowey’s proactive approach is exactly what is needed to keep on top of the problem of impaired driving.”
“When an incident of impaired driving occurs, its impacts ripple outward and affect not just those involved in the incident, but their families, friends, and community at large,” Chong said. “We need to do everything within our power to curb impaired driving.”
“MADD thanks Representative Lowey for her steadfast leadership to help eliminate drunk driving,” Sears said. “Since the introduction of our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, MADD has worked to pass 33 all offender ignition interlock laws. This legislation will ensure that every state protects all citizens from the 100 percent preventable crime of drunk driving.”