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De Blasio Slammed For Characterizing Drunken Driving As 'Minor Offense' Not Warranting Deportation

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio's credentials as an advocate for safe streets have been called into question after he said drunken driving could be a minor offense.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, it was less than a week ago that Mayor Bill de Blasio crossed a busy Brooklyn intersection with a teenager who had been hit by a car to highlight his Vision Zero plan for safe streets.

But now, he has been excoriated for a remark that suggested drunken driving could be considered a minor crime.

"I was shocked," said Richard Mallow, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "Mayor de Blasio comes out with, you know, Project Zero, you know, where he wants to stop, you know, the traffic issues in New York -- in the five boroughs -- and then he has the audacity to come out and say drunk driving is a minor issue?"

"I lost my leg to a drunk driver. I think it's a little more than minor. My whole life changed. I have two beautiful granddaughters I can no longer run around with," said Sandy LaPlante. "It's a struggle every day no matter what I do."

De Blasio made the remarks on CNN, defending New York as a sanctuary city and his policy of protecting immigrants who commit "very minor" offenses from deportation. He was asked if grand larceny or drunken driving is a "very minor" offense.

"Drunk driving that does not lead to any other negative outcome, I could define as that," de Blasio responded.

The city does have a list of 170 offenses where it will turn offenders over, including menacing a police officer, vehicular assault, rape and murder. Driving while intoxicated and driving while impaired are not on the list.

In Albany on Tuesday, the mayor was questioned about the other omissions from the list.

"Sexual misconduct, forcible touching, sexual abuse in the second or third degree, grand larceny, welfare fraud, identity theft," said state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Brooklyn), reading off offenses that are absent from the list.

"When you come up with a list of 170 offenses, if there are a several more that should be included, I'm perfectly happy to include them," de Blasio said.

Advocates said DWI should be on the list.

"I would like to see what he would say if one of his family members was in the position I'm in right now," LaPlante said.

CBS2's Kramer asked City Hall if drunken driving and driving while impaired would be added to the list of offenses meriting deportation. A spokeswoman said it will be the subject of "thoughtful attention and conversation."

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