HEMPSTEAD - Two suspected drunken drivers struck Nassau police officers with their cars over the weekend.
Prosecutors say 22-year-old Jose Martinez, of Elmont, had a blood alcohol content that was three times the legal limit when he hit a marked police cruiser on the site of Hempstead Turnpike early Sunday morning. According to police, an officer and a suspect were inside the cruiser at the time.
Martinez is facing several charges, including driving while intoxicated and reckless endangerment.
Just one day earlier, another Nassau officer was struck about a mile away on Nassau Boulevard. In that incident, 27-year-old Joseph Garcia was allegedly drunk behind the wheel when he hit the back of a marked police cruiser.
Danielle Rella, who works with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says the incidents should be a wake-up call. "Drunk drivers are often attracted to the lights, so that only adds to it," Rella says. "It makes them targets."
Rella's brother, officer Kenny Baribault, sustained serious injuries when he was struck on the side of the LIE back in 2008 as he pulled over another DWI suspect.
Rella says there should be stiffer penalties for drivers who are intoxicated when they injure another person, especially police officers. "They are the ones trying to keep us safe, and they end up getting hit, or hurt, or God forbid killed. It needs to stop."