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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Highway heroes

MADD honors Senator Sosnowski for legislative efforts

Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski, center, is honored for her efforts
in stopping drunken driving by Eric Creamer, left, executive director of
MADD Rhode Island, and Col. Steven G. O’Donnell,
superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.
The Rhode Island chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving has honored Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, New Shoreham, South Kingstown) for her efforts in stopping substance impaired driving, supporting victims and preventing underage drinking. 

The event, which took place September 23rd at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick, recognized the work of more than 25 professionals and agencies that have shown outstanding dedication to DUI enforcement, prosecution, victim services, legislation, emergency services and education.

“I am humbled to share the stage today with such an exceptional group of dedicated individuals, from law enforcement to victims’ services professionals, emergency health care workers and an educator,” said Senator Sosnowski. “They are the ones on the front lines each and every day making a difference for our community.”

Senator Sosnowski championed legislation in 2013 that allows judges to require ignition interlock systems in the cars of drivers convicted of drunken driving. The system requires the driver to blow into a tube before the car will start. The presence of alcohol will stop the car from starting. 

She also sponsored legislation that increases the penalties for drunken driving, providing a more meaningful deterrent to reckless driving and driving under the influence, as well as a law enabling police officers investigating a serious accident to get a search warrant to collect blood, breath or urine samples in spite of a Breathalyzer refusal, if there is probable cause.

“MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving endorses and encourages high-visibility law enforcement and continuing diligence on the part of our police, prosecutors and probation professionals.” said Eric Creamer, MADD Rhode Island executive director. 

“And there are so many individuals involved in furthering our mission to prevent drunken and drugged driving, serve victims and prevent underage drinking. This annual event is our way of saying thanks to those who dedicate their lives to this important work.” 

In addition to Senator Sosnowski, the awards were presented to State Troopers Franklin Navarro and Michael Reynolds III; Middletown Police Officers Brett McKinnon, Christian Orellana and Brendan Behan; Richmond Police Corporal William Litterio, Portsmouth Police Patrolman James Francis, Providence Police Patrolman Michael Troia, Lincoln Police Officer Bradley Stewart and North Providence Police Officer Ryan Emerson.

The Officer DUI Hero of the Year is State Trooper Conor O’Donnell. The Drug Recognition Expert of the Year went to Woonsocket Police Detective Jason Berthelette. The School Resource Officer of the Year went to Burrillville Police Patrolman David Beauchemin. The Community Outreach Award went to Cranston Police Department of Community Outreach. 

The Statewide Prosecutor of the Year is Assistant Attorney General Steve Regine. The State Victim Services award went to Ana Giron, Office of the Attorney General. Emergency Services awards were given to Westerly Hospital Emergency Department Nursing Staff and South County Hospital Emergency Department. And the Educator award went to Nicole Brown of LaSalle Academy.

“These individuals have been right on the front lines in preventing and stopping drunk driving, so creating an opportunity to showcase their efforts is extremely important,” Creamer said. 

“The cultural environment around drunken driving has changed significantly since MADD started in 1980. The numbers of drunken driving crashes and related injuries and fatalities are still alarming, and that is unacceptable. Providing more awareness for both adults and youth continues to be needed. With all of the alternatives, such as public transportation, ride sharing or a designated driver, there is no excuse for someone getting behind the wheel while impaired.”