A National Leader Against Drunk Driving
When Kathleen took office in 2006, Nassau County was in the midst of a drunk-driving epidemic that was costing its communities dozens of lives each year. Few politicians had the courage to challenge the status quo and Kathleen felt that law-enforcement agencies were moving slowly to develop ways to combat this dangerous crime. As a result, Kathleen stepped in and overhauled the office’s handling of drunk-driving cases. She created a bureau dedicated to their prosecution and she appointed a renowned vehicular crimes prosecutor to lead it.
Kathleen has dramatically reduced DWI plea bargaining and she has shined a public light on a problem that has helped spur Nassau’s police departments to devote more resources to enforcement on the roads. Kathleen worked with the court system to open a specialized court part for DWIs. She worked with the judges to develop tailored outcomes in an effort to reduce recidivism. And she worked with Nassau's schools to offer a first-of-its-kind education program, "Choices & Consequences," targeting teenage drunk and distracted driving. In two cases that received national attention, Kathleen took on the worst-of-the-worst drunk drivers – those who killed innocent motorists – and successfully convicted them of murder.
Kathleen parlayed her innovative successes at the local level to achieve significant legislative reform in Albany, authoring key legislation aimed at drunk drivers who kill and other measures designed to protect child passengers and to monitor convicted offenders who have lost their license to drive.
Kathleen's efforts have reformed the way Nassau combats drunk driving, and they have helped to renew a national dialogue on this critical public safety challenge. As a result, fewer people are being killed on our roads and our national public policy is more willing to confront and effectively combat this national problem.
The New York Daily News has called Kathleen “the nation’s toughest prosecutor on DWI offenses” and her award-winning efforts to combat drunk driving have been praised by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and profiled on CBS News’ 60 Minutes.