Bill Increases Penalties For Leaving the Scene of Auto Accident

 

    A bill co-sponsored by New York State Senator Ken LaValle (R-C-I, Port Jefferson) that would increase the penalties for leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident (S.2503) was passed by the New York State Senate.

    The bill was introduced in the wake of the tragic hit and run death of Erika Hughes, a 24-year-old Mastic resident and mother of a 15-month-old girl. The driver who hit and killed Hughes only received a sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.

     “I have heard and read about too many instances in which individuals have been killed by hit-and-run drivers and it is later determined that the driver was intoxicated," Senator LaValle said. “This bill, rightfully, closes loopholes in the current law.”

    Among other provisions, this legislation changes a fatal hit and run from a Class D Felony to a Class C Felony and increases prison time to a maximum of 15 years in state prison. Under this bill, the punishment for other types of hit and run offenses will also be upgraded.

    “I have heard and read about too many instances in which individuals have been killed by hit-and-run drivers and it is later determined that the driver was intoxicated," Senator LaValle said. “This bill, rightfully, closes loopholes in the current law.”

    Current Law

    Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol can receive a lesser punishment if they flee the scene of an accident. For example, in the case of a first-time offender, a driver who wrongfully flees the scene of an accident where a personal injury has occurred can only be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of only up to 1 year in jail. However, if the driver remains at the scene and is found to be intoxicated or impaired by drugs, he can be immediately charged with a Class E felony carrying a maximum penalty of four years.