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Harsher penalties for convicted drunk drivers proposed

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Updated: 1/08 10:49 pm

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 DWI's would mean harsher penalties for people convicted of multiple DWI's. Families, who have tragically lost someone to a drinking and driving accident, say that the idea is a step in the right direction.

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

"You raise your kids to be good kids," explained Heidi, "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 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," explained Heidi.

In an effort to prevent these tragedies from happening, Governor Cuomo called for new punishments if caught drinking and driving multiple times.  If a person receives two DWI convictions in a three-year period, they would lose their license for five years. If a person gets a third conviction, they could lose their license for good.

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

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

Brian Bennett says he admires Cuomo for pushing something that he thinks isn't popular with many, but if it nothing changes

However, he 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 Bennett's are still mourning the loss of Alisha and Kyle, they are happy with the direction Cuomo is headed toward. They also say that making smart decisions is the only way to avoid having these tragedies happen.

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abbie - 1/9/2014 3:09 PM
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If they would put in place our idea people would think twice before getting in a car and driving drunk. We say if you get pulled over for drunk driving what ever police department pulled u over and did all their test and find out u are drunk they take your car they sell it and use the money for the people in their town.our problem is the cops pull u over and u are drunk and when people go to court they get a slap on the hand.Take their cars and don't give them back give them a real hard ship and I bet these drunks will never do it again if they loose their jobs.put this in effect and see how it works.
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