New York Tiffany’s Law Lawyer

In 2006, a young woman from Syracuse, NY was a passenger in a boat operated by an intoxicated man. She lost her life when the intoxicated man caused the boat to collide with an island. She was thrown from the boat and killed. Her name was Tiffany Heitkamp.

At the sentencing of the drunken boat operator, the operator was given a lighter sentence, like that of a first time offender, despite the fact he had several prior alcohol related driving offenses. At that time, the law had no provision that allowed prior DWI’s in a motor vehicle to be considered aggravating factors to a BWI offense, allowing the judge to increase the sentence.

Currently repeat offenses of the same type in a boat, car, snowmobile or ATV subject defendants to increased penalties. That said, today the law does not afford judges the right consider dissimilar offenses to be used to increase sentencing considerations.

The proposed law which recently passed the New York State Senate aptly named “Tiffany’s Law” (after Tiffany Heitkamp), would allow any operation of a vehicle while intoxicated charge whether it be in a motor vehicle (DWI), on water (BWI), on a snowmobile (SWI) or ATV to be considered a prior offense for the purposes of raising the stakes at sentencing.

Tiffany’s Law is sponsored Senator John A. DeFrancisco (R-C-I, Syracuse), who is hoping now that the Assembly has the bill that they will pass it soon.

When someone has a record of alcohol-related driving infractions, and they are found to have killed someone from once again operating a boat, car, snowmobile or ATV while intoxicated the proposed law would treat them all the same, allowing each instance of intoxicated operation to effect the other.

Under current law, repeat DWI, BWI, or SWI offenders are subject to increased penalties, including license revocation, fines, and incarceration. The bill was sent to the Assembly.