DWI convictions

Posted at: 01/09/2013 6:35 PM
By: Christine VanTimmeren

Police say he has a history of driving drunk. Dr. Steven DiVito was sentenced today to 5 to 15 years for a drunk driving accident two years ago that killed a Greece couple. Divito is a chiropractor in Irondequoit. Police say he was speeding when his car crashed into another, killing Jim and Pat DePinto.

Divito's attorney believes the system did fail his client. Assistant District Attorney Ray Benitez says it doesn't matter what penalties are in place, it's all about the decisions of the defendant.

Ray Benitez, Assistant District Attorney, said, “He made a conscious, knowing decision, an intelligent decision to consume alcoholic beverages to the point of intoxication and then get in the car and drive.”

On Wednesday, Dr. Steven Divito admitted that to everyone in the courtroom. But many are asking, why was DiVito even allowed to drive his car in the first place? Since 1992, DiVito has had three separate driving or boating while intoxicated charges pleaded down to ability impaired. His attorney, Ed Fiandach said as a result of his previous convictions, his license was suspended and he went through drinking and driving programs, but he still made the choice to drink and drive again.

Ed Fiandach, DiVito's attorney, said, “I think that more could have been done if the alcohol rehabilitation program in this state were better for people who are charged with drunk driving.”

Benitez said, “But when do you stop holding people's hands? It takes and individual to take that upon themselves to get to a treatment facility or a good friend or a family member, someone that you know has that additional interest.”

So is it a matter of personal choice and desire to change or should there be more strict penalties? In DiVito's previous convictions, the assistant district attorney says maybe there wasn't enough proof for the full DWI conviction,so in that case, the punishment fit the crime.

But Fiandach believes when you start to see a pattern like DiVito's, something more should be done. Laws should be reconsidered.

Fiandach said,  “It just seems to be strange that you know 7 years after the occurrence of one event you're back in the drinking and driving program again and no further treatment is called for.”

Benitez said, “We gotta stop putting crutches in these individual's hands and say well the system must have failed them because they're repeat offenders, because that's not the case.”

As of September 25, the DMV took matters into their own hands. They decided that if an individual has their license revoked 4 times in a 25 year period, their license will be revoked for life. But that begs the question, will that stop a person from drinking and getting behind the wheel of a car? The supreme court is also hearing arguments in a case testing whether police must get a search warrant before forcing a drunken driving suspect to have his or her blood drawn. Right now, warrants are required.

There's no way to say whether that legislation would make any difference in this case either, but it is another measure being taken.