Senator Fuschillo Supports Dangerous Driver Protections

Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.

April 22, 2005

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, recently voted for a series of legislation that would crack down on dangerous drivers who injure or kill innocent victims. This legislation would increase criminal penalties for dangerous drivers, especially those who cause injury or death and leave the scene of an accident. The package also addresses the growing danger of aggressive driving.

"Too many times, we have witnessed the destruction and pain that dangerous and aggressive drivers have caused families throughout our state. This is a problem that must be dealt with for the protection of all on our roadways" stated Senator Fuschillo.

The first measure of this legislative package would increase the fines and/or jail time incurred by those who leave an accident scene involving injury or death. Key to this legislation are the increased penalties for individuals convicted of leaving the scene of an accident where someone is killed. Under this measure, these offenders would face a maximum fine of five thousand dollars and up to seven years in prison.

"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. This legislation, which Senator Fuschillo cosponsored, has been agreed to by the State Assembly and is supported by Governor George Pataki.

A driver who flees the scene of an accident in which a serious personal injury was sustained could be charged with a class E felony 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.

The Dangerous Driver package which passed the Senate also includes:

*Consecutive sentences for those who are convicted of two or more criminal offenses through a single act that causes the death or injury of multiple victims. This change would allow the driver to be held responsible for each person they injure or kill.

*Stronger penalties for individuals convicted of injuring or killing someone as a result of dangerous and unlawful driving. This includes closing the loophole that protects drunk drivers from being held responsible when they cause the death of another person. Under this legislation, a drunk driver may be charged with Vehicular Manslaughter if, at the time of the accident, they were driving while intoxicated.

*Automatic license suspensions for those charged with leaving the scene of a deadly accident.

*Automatic revocation of a driver’s license when the operator violates the legal "rules of the road" and causes serious physical injury or death. Once revoked, the driver can have his or her license restored only after successfully completing an accident prevention course approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

*Required fingerprinting of those convicted of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle to allow for the appropriate prosecution of repeat offenders. The legislation would allow authorities to access information which would elevate a repeat offense from a misdemeanor to a felony.

*A new misdemeanor offense of aggravated aggressive driving for those who drive aggressively and cause injury or death or property damages over $1,500. This offense would be classified as a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, a fine and a suspension of license.

"The roadways of New York State are well-protected by the men and women of our police force. The legislation we passed would make sure that those drivers who are caught driving drunk, driving aggressively or driving unlicensed would not be allowed back on the roadways and the revolving door for thoughtless and dangerous drivers would be closed," added Senator Fuschillo.

All of this legislation passed in the Senate and is awaiting passage in the Assembly.