Governor Cuomo signs stiffer legislation against DWI offenders into effect
Like any other Sunday 82 year old Vincent Russo woke up early to go to church in Liverpool on January 9, 2011. Except on this Sunday he was hit head on by a drunk driver.
Paul Russo is his brother. "I feel real badly for his wife Jane, they were married for 60 years. Now she's alone and misses him terribly, we all do," says Russo.
Russo died from his injuries caused by Michael Iannettoni. He had five previous convictions for DWI offenses. 4 were in the previous 17 years.
State Senator John DeFrancisco has helped turn this tragedy into Vince's Law. "Five! Five! Can you imagine that? And he wasn't behind bars," says DeFrancisco.
After more than 3 years of lobbying in Albany Paul Russo's work has paid off now that Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed Vince's Law into effect.
"It's a huge problem for all of us and I knew that I didn't want to have my brother die in vain. I wanted a legacy for him," says Russo.
While the felony charges remain the same for a third time offender at up to seven years in prison and a 10 thousand dollar fine, the law increases the look back period from 10 years to 15. A change which could have brought stiffer charges earlier for Iannettoni and could help other families moving forward.
"If you're taking another drunk driver off of the streets, you're saving everybody, maybe even a member of your own family," says DeFrancisco.
Paul Russo says Iannettoni never served a day in jail for his previous convictions before hitting and killing his brother and he wants prosecutors to see this law and hear his story and uphold charges against offenders.
"I'm hoping that they're going to adopt some stricter interpretations of the law and hopefully impose some no plea bargain issues, says Russo.
The law goes into effect this November.