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Posted: 10/31/2006 1:34:34 PM EDT
New gun, DWI, fleeing from officer laws to take effect

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- A loophole that weakened New York's gun laws by allowing probation for illegal possession of a loaded firearm will be closed when a new law takes effect Wednesday.

The new rule requires a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years.

"New York is now the toughest place to get caught with an illegal gun," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The measure was one of three anti-crime laws discussed Tuesday by Gov. George Pataki and Bloomberg. One would require harsher penalties for repeat drunken drivers. Another would create more serious penalties for fleeing from police.
Bloomberg made the trip to Albany to share in the ceremonial bill signings with Pataki, a fellow Republican, a week before Election Day. Polls are showing Democrats in the lead for all statewide offices.

"Once again, we have fought for legislation that will toughen the penalties for those who illegally possess loaded weapons and intend to harm our neighbors, loved ones, and the men and women in uniform," Pataki said. "These laws will give our law enforcement officials the tools they need to get more illegal guns off the streets."

The new law elevates illegal possession of a loaded firearm to a Class C felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, up from a maximum of seven years.

The "Bill Leaf-Brandi Woods Law" increases the punishment for repeat DWI offenders who cause injury or death.

The law is named in part for Brandi Woods, a 15-year-old who was killed by a drunk driver with three prior DWI arrests while delivering Girl Scout cookies in 2005. The driver was sentenced to one to three years in state prison. It is also named for Bill Leaf, a reporter for Syracuse radio station WSYR, who was killed by a drunk driver on Jan. 8. The drunk driver who killed Bill Leaf had a history of driving while intoxicated.

Under the new law, a driver will be charged with vehicular manslaughter if he or she causes a fatal accident and had previously been convicted of driving while intoxicated within 10 years. Previously, the charge would carry a lesser sentence and prior convictions wouldn't affect the felony level of the charge.

The "Trooper Craig Todeschini Law" creates a new crime for refusing to obey police directions to stop and recklessly fleeing in a motor vehicle where such action results in the injury or death of another.

Todeschini, 25, died April 23 when he crashed into a tree while chasing a motorcyclist who was traveling at more than 100 mph through the small hamlet of Pompey, about 15 miles south of Syracuse.

On the Net: http://www.state.ny.us


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