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DWI Crackdown Is Driving People To Not Drink – QNS.com

DWI Crackdown Is Driving People To Not Drink

The Citywide crackdown on drunken drivers that began Feb. 21 with the seizure of a Corona man’s car has left several owners of local liquor selling establishments wondering what lies in store for the future of their businesses and critics with questions about the new police policy.
"It’s unfair, this affects everyone," said Joseph Spadola, owner of Joey’s Place Italian-American Restaurant in Astoria who said that he has noticed less people coming in and less alcohol being consumed since the Police Dept.’s auto seizure plan has been put into place.
"People who normally have 3 or 4 beers now have only 2," said Spadola who added that many customers are afraid to even have 2 drinks for fear that they may lose their car.
"We already have a problem with smoking," said Val Mylonas, the owner of the popular Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouses with locations in Flushing and Manhattan who predicts a 20 percent drop in patronage as a result of the City’s recent crackdown.
Mylonas has noticed that the subject has been on the lips of many of his customers and said that, "people joke around about it but they are saying ‘I don’t want to lose my car,’"
All joking aside, the new stringent seizure law has its roots in "the state forfeiture statute and the similar Federal statute," where items purchased with the proceeds of or are the instrumentality of a crime can be confiscated by officials said Mary de Bourban, a spokesperson from the Queens District Attorney’s office.
Under the new DWI policy, police can implement an on-the-spot seizure of cars belonging to anyone found to be driving over the legal 0.10 percent limit for driving while intoxicated in addition to being charged with a Class A misdemeanor which carries a minimum $500 fine, a six month suspension of driving privileges and possibly a year in jail.
"The cars are then taken to the pound in Brooklyn," according to Officer John Giammano, a police spokesperson who said the Redhook car impound will be where all seized autos in the City will be brought under the DWI enforcement initiative.
After being charged with drunk driving, defendants then face the judge in a criminal court hearing and even if they are acquitted in the criminal proceeding— which requires them to prove they did not commit a crime beyond a reasonable doubt—they must prove they are not guilty beyond a preponderance of evidence that the vehicle was not used to commit a crime in a civil proceeding.
The only way an accused drunk driver can get their wheels back is if they are not found guilty in civil court according to de Bourban.
Those whose blood alcohol content registers at .05 percent to .09 percent will be charged with driving while impaired, a lesser penalized traffic violation.
According to the Office of Court Administration out of the 6,398 people arrested in the City for driving while intoxicated, a whopping 91 percent accepted a plea of a lesser charge and only 8 people were actually found guilty of actual DWI.
An unintentional result of the new policy may result in an unwanted overflow in court cases where defendants will choose to go to trial instead of accepting a plea since opting for a trial will give them a better shot at keeping their cars.
This situation has court officials and workers reportedly worried that these cases could mean longer dockets.

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