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Parents of Long Island DWI victims say loophole in state law prevents arrest of some drivers

Parents of DWI victims say loophole prevents arrest of some drivers
Parents of DWI victims say loophole prevents arrest of some drivers 01:55

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- The day before Thanksgiving is known as "Blackout Wednesday," and law enforcement agencies are warning people who consume drugs or alcohol at gatherings not to drive impaired. 

Grieving parents joined the effort Monday on Long Island to push for stricter laws. 

As millions hit the roads for Thanksgiving this week, these grieving families reminded drivers the stark consequences of impaired driving and held up photos of their loved ones who will never be able to come home. 

"I wouldn't wish this on anyone, seeing my son on a stretcher, knowing in every fiber of my being that he was already gone, but still hoping and praying," said Andrea Carpenter, whose son was killed in a crash. 

Monday, Andrea and Timothy Carpenter saw firsthand the crushed Ford Escape their 22-year-old son was riding in on March 19 when a 40-year-old man, allegedly high on fentanyl, killed him with his pickup truck. 

The Carpenter's son's death is among a troubling rise in traffic fatalities nationwide that prosecutors and police want to prevent with a new bill. 

"The loophole in the drugged driving law needs to be closed," said Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly. 

Under the state's current law, an impaired driver can only be arrested if the officer can name the drug impairing them. But the test to identify the drug can only be administered after the arrest. 

"In other words, if a person is impaired by the use of drugs, but refuses a test, law enforcement must engage in a guessing game, which of course they cannot do. So they have to release that person," said Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney. 

New York also requires a drug to be on a public health law list to trigger a drugged driving violation, but prosecutors say the list doesn't keep pace with the proliferation of rapidly changing synthetic drugs. 

"It is long overdue for New York state to resolve issues in the law that make it hard to successfully gather critical evidence in these cases. This deprives victims of justice," said Alisa McMorris, whose son was killed in a DWI crash. 

Without a change, these families say dangerous criminals will stay on the road. 

The families said they will head to Albany on Jan. 9 to push for the bill's passage. 

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