Family fighting for law named after man killed by serial drunk driver
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Tougher penalties for repeat drunk drivers have cleared the state Senate and now face the Assembly.
Vince's Law is named after Vincent Russo, a Liverpool man killed two years ago by a drunk driver who was awaiting sentencing for his fifth DWI conviction.
Russo was on his way to church when his car was hit head-on by Michael Iannettoni.
Iannettoni was out of jail, waiting to go back behind bars.
It's a day Russo's brother Paul says he'll never forget.
“We arrived at the hospital about 9:00. When he arrived there I think he was still conscious. When I saw him at 9:00 with his wife Jane and some of the other family members, he was unconscious."
Russo says right from that day he decided he'd fight for a law to crack down on serial drunk drivers.
The senate bill that bears his brothers name does that. A driver can spend 15 years in prison if they are convicted of DWI three times in a 25-year period. The current law only covers DWI’s for a ten-year time frame.
“At this point and time I don't feel his death has been any significance in terms of recompense for us or the family," Russo said.
Allowing state lawmakers to look into the possibility of harsher penalties in these cases is exactly why Onondaga County Judge Joe Fahey made the decision he did earlier this year.
Fahey decided to leave unsealed the file of the DWI crash that killed Vincent Russo even though the man blamed for the crash died before his appeal was heard.
Paul Russo said, “I think he did that in deference to the family out of respect to Jane and my brother and the rest of the family because he knew we were pursuing legislation with the New York State Legislature."
Russo says with the Senate bill passed he'll turn his attention to the Assembly to ensure Vince’s law makes it to the Governor's desk.
Right now there is no sponsor in the Assembly for Vince’s Law. The hold up seems to be that the 25-year look back period is too long for them to sign onto.
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