Reporting Sophia Hall
RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBS 2/WCBS 880/1010 WINS) — Each year in America more than 1,000 lives are claimed by “wrong-way” drivers.
On Tuesday, Long Island’s district attorneys called for new studies and harsher penalties as charges were upgraded against the wrong-way drunk driver accused of killing a cop, reports CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan.
The distraught family of the New York City Police officer killed in the horrifying wrong-way crash was speechless. They had just learned from Suffolk County’s district attorney that the accused drunk’s blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit when suspect Michael Bowen allegedly drove west against eastbound traffic and head on into Officer Andres Menzies, leaving his grieving widow with five children.
“I can’t bring her husband back, but I can prosecute this man to the fullest extent of the law which I intend to do,” Suffolk DA Thomas Spota said.
The police officer lost his life in the mangled wreck on the Northern Parkway. Twenty-four hours later another innocent motorist — this one on the Long Island Expressway — was almost killed by another wrong-way driver. Police said a 22-year-old woman was intoxicated and behind the wheel of what became twisted metal.
“In light of the recent rash of wrong-way drunk drivers on our roads, I sent a letter to the Department of Transportation,” Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice said.
Rice has requested a formal study to determine if rumble strips, lower signs, fog line reflectors, and red glow lighting might help warn drunks they are going the wrong way.
She said her community is still seeking answers four years after the Meadowbrook wrong-way crash that claimed the lives of a flower girl and a limo driver, and a year after seven lives were lost, including four children from Long Island, in the Diane Schuler wrong-way crash on the Taconic State Parkway in Westchester County.
“No more second chances. That’s what we are taking away,” State Sen. Charles Fuschillo, R-Merrick, said Tuesday.
In light of the drunk crashes Fuschillo proposed a new bill on Tuesday that would require mandatory jail time for repeat DWI offenders.
Because as unbelievable as it seems a New York judge right now has the option of sentencing those repeat drunk drivers to nothing more than community service.
Bowen, 50, pleaded not guilty to upgraded aggravated vehicular homicide charges involving the NYPD officer. Prosecutors said Bowen was so drunk at the scene he thought he was on another road in another county.