Governor Paterson introduced new legislation yesterday that would stiffen penalties for drunk drivers who get behind the wheel with children in the car. First-time offenders would be required to install devices to prevent their cars from starting and any drunk drivers who kill a child under 17 would face up to 25 years in prison. The bill proposes creating a new drunken driving charge, aggravated vehicular homicide, increasing the penalties for drivers who kill someone while drunk or on drugs.
The bill had been in the works, but was given increased priority in the wake of the Taconic crash in which Diane Schuler was driving with five young children in the car. Schuler was discovered to have a blood alcohol level of 0.19 and traces of marijuana as well. Charles Fuschillo, the Long Island state senator who co-authored the bill, said, "If you're going to drive drunk with a child held hostage in the car, if you're convicted you should face hard time." Under current law, having a kid in the car while driving drunk is an added misdemeanor.
Despite the toxicology results in the case, Diane Schuler's husband Daniel and his lawyer Dominc Barbara continue to publicly insist that there is "no way in the world she's an alcoholic." The latest justification coming from the lawyer is that the blood alcohol findings were caused a topical painkiller Diane Schuler had taken. Barbara told the Post yesterday, "She took Anbesol for her toothache, that's what caused it. Look it up on the Web!" Experts said that such a scenario was just about impossible, even if the entire 1.75 liter bottle of vodka inside Schuler's car was covered in Anbesol. There was also no word from Barbara how it would cause traces of THC to appear, something he has refused to address thus far.