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Letter: Because NY Does Not Effectively Address Drugged Driving

By ADA Maureen McCormick, Special Assistant for Legislative Initiatives, Office of the District Attorney, Suffolk County

The Huntley Family Tragedy

This Op-ed is available for publication in full to any interested media outlet.

Warning: The image below may be disturbing to some readers.

The Deadly Driving Bill (S.3135/A.174) would finally allow police to arrest obviously impaired drugged drivers regardless of whether the impairing substance is named or on a list. The type of alcohol doesn’t have to be named for drunk driving arrests and can be based on observations without a test. The same should be true for drugged driving.

The result of ineffective laws is the destruction of families across the state.

Here is one of them:

Marine Veteran, Patrice Huntley, his 13 year old daughter, Hannah, his 10 year old son, Jeremiah and his 6 year old granddaughter, Chantel were killed in a horrific crash on Long Island. The driver is alleged to have been driving 120 mph while impaired by fentanyl and cocaine when he crashed into the back of the family’s car which was stopped in a line of traffic at a red light on Sunrise Highway in East Massapequa. The family had been going to get ice cream at 7:20 in the evening on Sunday, August 6. In an instant, 3 members of the Huntley family had their lives violently stolen. Young Chantel perished from her injuries days later, while other family members fought for recovery in the hospital.

Below is a picture of photo of the Huntley crash scene, first-responders.

Warning: The image below may be disturbing to some readers.

Now imagine that if the driver who allegedly killed these family members had been stopped by police a block before the crash, that he could not be charged with drugged driving because he refused an identifying test and the police (obviously) could not specify that he was high on fentanyl and cocaine (on the the list). That’s absurd. We owe these families safe roads.

Please pass the Deadly Driving Bill (S.3135/A.174) and fix this.

Maureen McCormick is an Assistant District Attorney and Special Assistant for Legislative Initiatives with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.