Glens Falls court sentences offending drivers to wheel of video simulator

January 22, 2018 06:10 PM

GLENS FALLS -Tucked in a small conference room on the third floor, just a few feet from the city courtroom, Judge Gary Hobbs appears intent on completing the next level of a video game. The screen looks like something from Xbox or Playstation, but this simulator has a real application and real-life consequences. It's being used as a condition of sentencing for impaired, distracted, or drivers who otherwise break the law.

Judge Hobbs says drivers have to pay attention to everything.

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"Everything from sight distances, keeping safe speeds."

Just like the real thing, there's a steering wheel, gas pedal and a brake. Just like the real thing, if you're pulled over, or cause a crash, police put you through a virtual field sobriety test.

The state chose Glens Falls as a pilot site for the program.  

Drivers will still get expected penalties, but in some cases, people will be allowed to complete the three-hour simulator program instead of paying heavy fines.

"They can avoid higher fines, they can avoid multiple points and then don't end up with insurance increases," said Hobbs.

The idea comes from a national task force that says the costs of traffic offenses is too much for the poor. The hope is that it will lessen the cost and teach a few lessons.

"We'll see at the end of the year whether or not it's really been a successful tool," Hobbs said.


Mark Mulholland

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