The New York State Senate today passed a chapter amendment (S.5493) to legislation sponsored by Senator Carl Marcellino (R, Syosset), and enacted earlier this legislative session, that increases the penalties for drivers who flee the scene of an accident which resulted in injury or death. The chapter amendment would make the law effective immediately. The law is currently scheduled to take effect on November 1, 2005.
"I am pleased that the Senate has approved legislation which will allow for the utilization of these new and tougher penalties," said Senator Marcellino. "Only by making the penalty fit the crime can we send the message to drivers who ‘hit, kill and run’ that they will face swift, certain, and severe punishment for their careless acts."
"Hit and run drivers display a callous disregard not only for the rules of the road, but for the lives of innocent people," said Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. "This chapter amendment will make the law effective immediately upon enactment, meaning victims of this horrible crime will no longer have to wait for justice to be served."
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. 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.
The change in the effective date of the law is prompted by the continuing rash of hit and run driver incidents that have recently plagued streets in New York City, including:
> On May 25, Anthony Ferrisi, 39, became the 18th person killed by a hit and run driver in New York City this year when he was struck by an 83-year old driver in Queens.
> On May 27, Carol Whyte, 18, was clinging to life after being mowed down by a black sedan with tinted windows and no license plates in Harlem.
> Police were still searching for a green van that struck and killed 2-year-old Alex Chimbo and his mother, Carmen Lata, 26, on May 23 in Queens.
> Detectives are also still looking for the driver who hit and killed Russian immigrant Ilya Kiselev, 20, on May 25 in Manhattan.
The legislation was sent to the Assembly.