In 2002, Olympic gold medallist and Lake Placid resident Jack Shea was struck and killed by a drunk driver near his home.
The drunk driver evaded prosecution even though he registered a blood alcohol content of .15 because of a loophole in state law that requires a physician be on scene when blood is drawn, which there wasn’t.
The state Senate officially took the first step in closing that loophole Thursday with the unanimous passage of Jack Shea’s Law, which would allow registered nurses and emergency medical technicians to draw blood for alcohol or drug screenings if no physician is present on scene.
Senator Charles Fuschillo co-authored Jack Shea’s Law.
“Drunk drivers who cause crashes and claim innocent lives should not be able to escape prosecution due to a technicality in the law. There are numerous licensed health professionals who are fully trained to take blood to determine alcohol content without the presence of a physician,” Fuschillo said.
Numerous legislators, including Senator Betty Little, sponsored the legislation.
“Jack Shea was a beloved and highly respected member of the Lake Placid community,” Little said. “His sudden and tragic death was made even worse because of a technicality in the law that prevented the driver from being prosecuted.”
The New York State Association of District Attorney’s has been pushing for more lax drug and alcohol screening measures for years.
According to NYSADA President Kate Hogan, the on-scene physician requirement has gotten far too many DWI offenders off the hook.
“We are grateful that the Senate has voted to pass this common sense solution to close a legal loophole,” Hogan said. “New Yorkers deserve laws that make sense.”
Jack Shea’s Law will now be sent to the Assembly for consideration.