NBC 4 I-Team: After String of Deadly Crashes, NY Looks to Crack Down on Learner's Permit Rules

New York State lawmakers are eyeing a crackdown on new drivers who violate the terms of their learners permits — a proposal that comes after a series of recent deadly collisions involving unlicensed drivers.

"He broke my heart," Nicole Henderson said of Anthony Rose, the 19-year-old driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured her daughter Nya and killed two of Nya's close friends.

Henderson called what happened "a parent's worst nightmare." Even worse, it wasn't the first time Rose was accused of causing a crash while driving without insurance and violating multiple terms of his learner's permit.

"They are still learning. That's why it's called a learner's permit. So we should make sure that if they are putting people at risk, that we stop that from happening as quickly as possible," said New York State Senator Michael Gianaris.

Devastated parents said if Rose's permit had been suspended more quickly, maybe he would not have been behind the wheel the day of that fatal crash. But the Department of Motor Vehicles was waiting for Rose's tickets to be adjudicated in court which took more than two years.

The NBC New York I-Team first exposed cracks in the system in April, including backlogs in Pelham Manor traffic court and loopholes in the state's traffic laws that enabled Rose to hold onto his permit before — and even after — the deadly collision.

Under New York State law, with few exceptions, only drivers under 18 years old can have their permits pulled before a conviction in court.

"If there's reason to believe you're a dangerous driver and you're not fully licensed, they shouldn't be on the road as this is playing out," Gianaris said.

Gianaris, who represents Queens, proposed the bill that would no longer make it necessary to wait for a conviction before imposing a 60-day suspension for permit holders 18 and older.

The bill spells out new grounds for suspension, including: driving without a licensed driver over age 21 in the car; driving with hazardous materials; driving with more than one passenger under 21 unless a parent or driving instructor is present; and driving with anyone in the front seat other than a supervising driver.

In cases where a permit holder is believed to have caused injuries or death, Gianaris' bill would seize the license plates from the car until the case plays out. The goal is to keep potentially dangerous drivers off the road, but an owner could appeal to get the plates back sooner.

"Drivers with learner's permits continue to cause death or injury and the laws have not caught up to that danger and we thank the I-Team for your work," said Gianaris.

Rose has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in Westchester. His attorney told NNBC New York he was devastated by the crash and disputes prosecutors' accusations that Rose was speeding 100 miles per hour at the time of the accident. He is due back in court in June.

Watch the full story at NBC 4 New York here.