Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) announced that the New York State Senate passed legislation he co-sponsored which would deliver immediate protections from hit and run drivers to New Yorkers. This legislation would change the effective date of a law previously passed increasing the penalties for those who flee the scene of an accident which results in injury or death, so that these new measures are effective immediately and not in November of this year.
"This change in the law will protect the innocent victims of these callous drivers and any delay in its enactment could provide an opportunity for a hit and run driver to escape justice. Simply put, if you are in an accident, stay and help or you will go to jail," stated Senator Fuschillo.
The new law would increase the fines and/or jail time incurred by those who leave an accident involving injury or death. Under the new penalties, if a death occurs and the driver flees the accident scene, the driver could be convicted of a class D felony and face up to seven years in prison and a five thousand dollar fine.
A driver who flees the scene of an accident involving a serious injury could be charged with a class E felony, punishable by four years in prison and up to five thousand dollars in fines. In the event of an accident involving personal injury, the penalty would now be a class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a class E felony for subsequent violations.
"Under current law, drunk drivers who flee an accident scene and sober up actually face a lesser charge than if they remained and sought assistance for their victim. This loophole in the law provides these drivers with an incentive to flee the scene and has in some cases delayed assistance to the injured victim. By changing the law, we allow for greater accountability and eliminate this loophole," said Senator Fuschillo.
The legislation, which is an amendment of an earlier bill co-sponsored by Senator Fuschillo that passed both houses of the legislature unanimously, was sent to the Assembly for approval.
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