CARTHAGE, N.Y. (WWNY) - An arrest for driving while ability impaired, or DWAI, in Carthage has sparked the latest debate on New York’s bail reform laws. It’s a case that has the village police chief warning the community and a local bail reform advocate saying the justice system needs to adapt.
“My main concern is that it’s just going to take her killing someone driving while impaired by drugs before we can finally do something with her,” said Carthage Police Chief Reginald Huber.
On Monday night, Huber says his department arrested 28 year old Chelsea Frost, charging her with driving while under the the influence of drugs and attempting to flee the police.
“Just in that short amount of time she could have hit at least three cars head-on,” said Huber.
He says this was Frost’s third arrest by law enforcement in 6 weeks for allegedly driving under the influence.
Due to bail reform laws, Frost was given an appearance ticket, allowing her back on the road as soon she gets her car off the tow lot.
“People are out there thinking they are safe to drive and out of nowhere they are struck and they don’t even know what happened,” said Huber.
“We have multiple avenues we can address this situation through besides putting the individual in jail,” said Watertown criminal defense attorney John Hallett.
He is pro-bail reform.
“Studies have shown that if a person goes to jail, even on a fairly minor offense for a fairly short time such as a week, they’re twice as more likely to commit a crime in the future,” he said.
Hallett says in cases like this police should get people in front of a judge sooner so they are less likely to commit another crime.
“So instead of making the appearance ticket returnable in 3 or 4 months, they can make the appearance ticket returnable in 2of 3 days,” he said.
But Huber says that’s not always possible. A judge, a prosecutor, and a defense lawyer need to be present at the time of arraignment and that won’t be the case until 2 weeks from now.
7 News was unable to reach Frost, but her mother told us she hopes this is a wake up call for her daughter to get help.
“I just want the public to know that we are doing our job as the law is written and if they want change, they should contact their local legislatures and see if they can get that done,” said Huber.
According to state police, Frost was originally arrested for DWAI drugs on September 8. She was issued a ticket to appear on September 21 in Carthage Village Court.
Troopers said she was arrested on the same charge on September 22 and was ticketed to appear in Wilna Town Court on October 20.
It’s unclear if those court appearances actually took place.
Frost is set to appear in court on October 26 on the latest charge.