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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