Andrea Stewart-Cousins's Blog

Important Bills Passed This Week: Tougher Penalties for Unlicensed Drivers, Update on Identity Theft Laws, and More!

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Tough Penalties For Unlicensed Drivers: Teresita “Grace” Solano was killed on February 24, 2012 by an individual who was operating a delivery truck in Middletown, NY with a suspended license. The defendant, whose license had been suspended several times in the past, could not be sentenced to more than 30 days in jail. S.1888A makes causing a wrongful death while driving with a suspended license a class E felony, and will serve as a deterrent to future and repeat unlicensed driving.

Update to Identity Theft Laws & Sentencing: Many laws have arisen in response to changing methods and types of identity such as unlawful possession of personal information and skimming devices used to gather personal information. Senate Bill S218, sponsored by Democratic Senator Daniel Squadron, consolidates identity theft laws into a single distinct section of penal code and establishes a range of penalties. It also establishes enhanced sentences for stealing the identity of a minor, vulnerable elderly or disabled person, or deployed military personnel.

Tougher Penalties For Hate-Related Graffiti: Graffiti is a misdemeanor crime resulting in sentences of a year or less, but S951A, sponsored by Democratic Senator Kevin Parker, will include bias-related graffiti under the same section of law that covers desecration of religious property, punishable by one-and-a-third to 4 years in prison. Stiffer penalties will likely serve as a deterrent to hate-based graffiti like that recently seen in Westchester and Kings Counties.