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Prison term for repeat drunk driver sends a strong message

Prison term for repeat drunk driver sends a strong message

Prison is the only place for people who repeatedly threaten our lives by driving drunk

Now we're getting somewhere.

Acting Saratoga County Judge Matthew Sypniewski, at the urging of county prosecutor Karen Heggen, on Monday finally put a six-time-convicted drunk driver in prison where she belongs.

Michelle Moyer, who had been previously convicted of six DWIs, including four felonies, will spend the next 2-1/3 to 7 years in state prison after being convicted of driving the wrong way down one-way Caroline Street in Saratoga Springs in August 2014.

Such a long sentence is welcome and should be a warning to repeat drunk drivers that they’ll no longer be automatically turned loose and given another chance to kill and maim.

Between 2009, drunk drivers killed more than 360 New Yorkers, accounting for 30 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state during that time. Repeat drunk drivers like Moyer are the most dangerous. Drivers with a previous DWI are four times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than first-time offenders, and each successive DWI arrest increases the likelihood of being involved in a fatal crash.

While suspending licenses and requiring ignition interlock devices on vehicles can be effective, nothing is more effective at stopping a repeat drunk driver than getting that person off the road with a prison sentence.

There's no way Moyer should have been allowed to accumulate so many DWI convictions without a prison term. So our state lawmakers and the courts still have a ways to go in demonstrating how serious they take this problem.

But this sentence —the maximum allowed by law for a non-fatal DWI conviction — should send a strong message to drunk drivers that society is weary of your indifference to human life and that you will be punished by losing your liberty.

Judges and prosecutors around the state should make these kind of sentences the norm in New York, getting more potential killers off the street and saving more lives.

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