Harsher penalties for convicted drunk drivers proposed by Cuomo - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Harsher penalties for convicted drunk drivers proposed by Cuomo


ALBANY, N.Y. – Governor Andrew Cuomo touched upon a number of topics during Wednesday's State of the State address, including cracking down on distracted and dangerous drivers.

The new and aggressive stance against DWIs would mean harsher penalties for people convicted of multiple DWIs. Families who have tragically lost someone to a drinking and driving accident said that the idea is a step in the right direction.

Heidi Bennett and her husband, Brian, lost their 20-year-old daughter Alisha Schoonmaker in the summer of 2011.

"You raise your kids to be good kids," Heidi explained. "You teach them right from wrong, and you get that phone call that every parent just dreads."

A phone call told her that Alisha had been the victim of a DWI accident.  Heidi was hopeful it wasn't the worst.

She learned her daughter and Alisha's boyfriend, Kyle Dobert, had passed.

Philip Dobert, 52, was charged with DWI in connection to the accident and agreed to a plea deal that put him behind bars. Dobert crashed the car he was driving into a utility pole in Schaghticoke, killing his own son and Alisha.

"Devastated, you know, our lives," Heidi said.

In an effort to prevent these tragedies from happening, Governor Cuomo called for new punishments if a person is caught drinking and driving multiple times.

Cuomo proposed that if a person received two DWI convictions in a three-year period, then he would lose his license for five years. If a person gets a third conviction, then he would permanently lose his license.

"Definitely is a start, and I commend Governor Cuomo and I'm very thankful to him and I think it's a great thing," Heidi said.

"I think it's something that should have been done a long time ago," Brian added.

Brian said he admired Cuomo for pushing something that he thinks isn't popular with many.

However, Brian said that if nothing changed, "then, more people are going to die. And I don't want other families to go through what mine has."

While the Bennetts are still mourning the loss of Alisha and Kyle, they are happy with the direction Cuomo is headed toward. They also said that making smart decisions is the only way to avoid having these tragedies happen.

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