Owen H. Johnson

January 24, 2012

    The New York State Senate today passed legislation that creates new penalties for individuals supervising another driver while also under the influence of drugs or alcohol, also known as Abbagail’s Law (S.164C).  Senator Owen H. Johnson supported the new law.

Abbagail’s Law closes a big loophole by making it clear that ‘supervising drivers’ that are drunk will be held accountable for their irresponsible actions.  It’s simple to understand that if you are supervising a younger driver, you must be sober. Otherwise, the consequences can be tragic, like in the case of young Abbagail Buzard.

    In September 2009, Abbagail Buzard was at a family gathering when her father, who had been drinking, convinced a 17-year-old cousin with a learner’s permit to drive him to a store to get more beer. Abbagail and three other children also were in the car, with Abbagail sitting on someone’s lap in the back seat. The young driver was operating the vehicle at unreasonable speeds and lost control of the car. Abbagail was thrown from the car when it rolled down an embankment, eventually trapping her underneath the car and killing her. Under current law, neither the driver nor the father could be prosecuted for the circumstances leading to her death.

    This bill creates new penalties for supervising drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If a supervising driver has a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.18 percent or more, they would be charged with a Class E felony. If the BAC concentration is lower, they would face a Class A misdemeanor.

    The bill has been sent to the Assembly.