Prosecutors keep habitual drunk driver in jail

Dean Tuszynski / file photo

A hearing was held in Onondaga County Court Wednesday morning to determine if a habitual drunk driver could be classified as a ~persistent felon TM and kept off of Central New York streets.

In April, 51-year-old Dean Tuszynski of Salina was convicted of his 9th felony driving while intoxicated offense, and 12th overall. In this most recent incident, he was accused of rear-ending another car on Interstate 690 near John Glenn Boulevard, then leaving the scene without exchanging insurance information. He had to be tracked down by police.

Wednesday TMs hearing was to determine if Tuszynski qualifies as a ~persistent felon TM, which would make him eligible for up to 15 years to life in prison. Prosecutors say he was out of jail for only 47 days after a previous conviction when this most recent crash took place in September 2010.

Prosecutors said Tuszynski is a danger to the community and has shown complete disregard for the safety of the public, and should face the maximum penalty allowed by the law. In 2006, Onondaga County Judge Anthony Aloi tried to sentence Tuszynski to consecutive sentences for a series of DWI-related crashes in Geddes and Salina, but was overruled because the persistent felony offender law was unconstitutional at the time. The state court of appeals has now ruled the persistent felony offender law is constitutional, which spurred the new hearing.

After the hearing Wednesday morning, Aloi ruled that Tuszynski's 12 DWI convictions, including four that sent him to state prison, proved beyond a reasonable doubt that his case met requirements of the persistent felon statute. Aloi said that extended incarceration was warranted in this case. Aloi then sentenced Tuszynski to 15 years to life in prison.

Aloi said the number of Tuszynski's DWI convictions was "astounding", and it was clear Tuszynski was unable to control his drinking. He also said Tuszynski showed no respect for the law or safety of his fellow citizens.