The numbers could be enough to drive someone to drink.
New York City police made nearly 10,000 drunken-driving arrests last year, but of the more than 6,000 cases that have gone through the courts so far, only 187 offenders have landed behind bars, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Manhattan judges handed out the most lenient sentences among the five boroughs, with only 28, or 2.5 percent, of the 1,091 convicted offenders getting jail time. The borough's conviction rate for drunken drivers over the last three years was 75 percent, also the city's worst. What's the point in having penalties for bad behavior if they're not enforced?
The state's conviction rate for the past three years was nearly 96 percent. Legislators, advocates and families of those who have been killed by drunken drivers want to see more action on the part of the judicial system, according to the New York Post. They say the courts are lax when it comes to punishing offenders and that by giving reprobates merely a slap on the wrist, the system isn't doing enough to ensure the infraction doesn't happen again. Nearly 20 percent of drivers who got ticketed for DWI in 2008 had a prior DWI in the last five years, according to the Post.
"Statistics seem to show that all too often, there is no effort to put these people behind bars," state Sen. Craig Johnson (D-LI) told the Post.
That's why Johnson and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Sullivan County) are taking action. The politicians introduced legislation to strengthen DWI laws by permitting counties to require first-time offenders to install an ignition-locking system in their cars that would allow them to drive only after they passed a breathalyzer test, the Post reported.