State Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R, Syosset) and Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D, Long Beach ) today announced that both Houses have passed bill, S.4584/A.3327-A, that increases the penalties for drivers who flee the scene of an accident which resulted in injury or death. The bill will be sent to the Governor for his approval.
Although leaving the scene of an accident is already a crime, there is an inconsistency in the law that actually encouraged drivers to run from the accident. "Current law actually rewards a drunk driver who leaves the scene of an accident. If they stay, they face a class D felony but if they leave and sober up, they face only the lesser charge of a class E felony," said Senator Marcellino. This legislation rectifies this disparity by increasing the penalties for leaving the scene to be more in line with those for vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter.
A first violation for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in personal injury will now be a class A misdemeanor and any subsequent violations will be a class E felony. More important, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious personal injury or death will become a class D felony, punishable with a fine between $2,500 and $5,000, and up to 7 years in jail.
“As a former police officer, I have seen first hand the heartbreaking human tragedies that follow when hit and run drivers flee, leaving their victims frequently terribly injured and alone. The incidents of so called ‘hit run and hide’ accidents is a growing problem. This bill toughens penalties for those drivers who kill or injure someone in an accident and leave the scene of the crime,” said Assemblyman Weisenburg.
“I am very pleased that the Assembly has finally passed this life-saving legislation. I fully expect that the Governor will sign this bill. With the Governor’s approval, New York State will now have a punishment which fits the crime of injuring a person and then leaving the scene of an accident," concluded Senator Marcellino.