Guilderland residents decry DWAI proposal

He said writing a ticket for DWAI for a BAC under 0.05 percent is a waste of time because those charges are often thrown out anyway, as dictated by state statutes.

His suggestion was met with vocal opposition.

Guilderland residents spoke out against the measure, citing their desire for a third justice.

Anna Russo, deputy town clerk and an Altamont resident, said she was "hurt and surprised" by Redlich's suggestion.

"Laws such as highway safety are there to safeguard our communities," Russo said.

Russo said a driver with a BAC of 0.05 killed her daughter, and that it is dangerous to drive under the influence of even the smallest amount of alcohol.

She urged the town board to let the police use their professional discretion when it comes to writing tickets.

"They know when to stop them. They know when to write tickets. They do it from their heart," she said. "It's not a solution to let a drunk driver walk."

Others stated that DWI enforcement should not be directed by the town board. Letters from the Albany County District Attorney's office; Leonard Crouch, administrator of the Stop-DWI program in Albany County; and town residents were submitted to the board prior to the meeting. All were opposed to Redlich's suggestion.

Some speakers brought signs and pictures of their loved ones as a reminder to the board of the tragedies drunk driving can bring.

Redlich responded to the public criticism by saying he is only citing the parameters of state law that result in dismissal of many charges.

"I'm not saying we let them walk. They do walk," Redlich said of the cases where a defendant is cited with a 0.05 BAC.

Redlich also discussed Albany County District Attorney David Soares' policy of not permitting those with aggravated DWI charges to plea down if they have a 0.20 BAC or higher. Redlich said he is concerned that a number of cases of aggravated DWI that are fought are found in favor of the defendant, and many could have resulted in a plea where the defendant would at least get some penalty, such as treatment or counseling.

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