Senator Flanagan Announces Passage Of Legislation Requiring Mandatory Chemical Test After Accidents Involving Injury or Death
Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) announced today that the New York State Senate has passed legislation he sponsored that would help increase prosecution of dangerous drivers who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The bill (S1446) would require chemical testing of drivers suspected of being impaired when an accident occurs and results in serious injury or death.
“Every driver who makes the choice to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol must be held fully accountable for their actions,” Senator Flanagan said. “There is no logical reason to continue to provide these drivers with the ability to escape appropriate punishment when they injure or kill by allowing them to hide behind outdated laws. This bill provides police and prosecutors with the tools they need to better safeguard our roadways and help save innocent lives throughout our state.”
Under current law, chemical testing is permitted at the discretion of law enforcement following an accident but it is not required. Additionally, law enforcement needs to establish reasonable cause to order a chemical test.
Senator Flanagan’s legislation would make chemical tests mandatory for a driver when there is serious personal injury or death as a result of a motor vehicle accident and where it is reasonably believed that the driver was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
It would also expand the tools available to law enforcement in administering the chemical test by allowing the accident’s occurrence to be sufficient for establishing reasonable cause. Law enforcement can then immediately administer the test if the driver consents, or upon obtaining a warrant or court order if the driver refuses or is unable to consent.
In August of 2004, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Final Report on State Laws and Practices for BAC Testing and Reporting Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes found that New York State reported testing only 3.9 percent of surviving drivers who were involved in fatal crashes for their Blood Alcohol Concentration. Only two states in the nation reported testing a smaller percentage of surviving drivers involved in fatal crashes.
The bill was sent to the Assembly for further action.