New Bill May Put Drunk Drivers in Prison for 25 to Life


In New York, a drunk driver who was convicted in a fatal accident could face up to 25 years in prison under a new legislative agreement. The deal was struck following a highly emotional plea by a mother who described holding the decapitated head of her dead 7-year-old daughter, Katie Flynn, following a crash after a family member’s wedding.

The bill was inspired by a now-famous tragic car crash that decapitated the little girl and also killed the limousine driver. The tragic crash occurred just after 2:00 a.m. on July 2, 2005 when Katie was traveling home from her aunt’s wedding reception in a limousine with her mother, father, stepfather, sister and grandparents. A pickup truck traveling the wrong way on the Meadowbrook Highway and driven by a drunk driver hit the limousine head-on. Katie died instantly.

The driver of the pickup truck, 25-year-old Martin Heidgen, was drunk at the time of the crash and was convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced to 18 years to life in prison. The family and prosecutors had asked for the maximum of 25 years to life.

The proposed bill would create the crime of aggravated vehicular homicide, a Class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years to life in prison. This felony could be charged against someone convicted after a fatal crash who had a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.18 or higher (most state limits are 0.08). The felony could also be applied if the driver had a DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction in the previous 10 years; if the crash killed more than one person, if the crash also severely injured others; or if the driver had a suspended or revoked license.