State Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R, Syosset) announced the passage of his bill, S.4584, that increases the penalties for drivers who flee the scene of an accident which resulted in injury or death. It was also announced that agreement has been reached with the Assembly to pass Senator Marcellino's legislation.
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, passed for the seventh consecutive year, rectifies this incongruity 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 importantly, 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.
There have been several victims killed on Long Island as a result of hit and run drivers. In 2004, Cesar Lorenzana, a father of four from Suffolk County was killed by a hit and run driver, and Jack Geizhals was killed by a hit and run driver in Nassau County.
“I am very pleased that the Assembly has finally agreed to pass this life-saving legislation. By brining this bill before the Assembly we are doing a service for every driver and pedestrian in our state. I am looking forward to the Governor signing this bill and improving the safety of our roads, and, ultimately, our quality of life," concluded Senator Marcellino.