Senator Gianaris, 12th District, announced his proposal stiffening penalties on drivers without valid licenses who kill or injure passed the State Senate unanimously. Currently, the most severe penalty a District Attorney can seek in such instances is a misdemeanor. Convicted drivers are rarely sentenced to any jail time at all and they are free to commit additional offenses.
This legislation (S.3299)would increase the penalty to a class E felony for seriously injuring a person and a class D felony if the accident resulted in a death, with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.
Gianaris first introduced the proposal in 2014 after 8-year old Noshat Nahian was killed by an unlicensed driver while walking to school on Northern Boulevard in December 2013. The driver had a suspended license. The bill passed the Senate 59-0 without debate, but languished in the Gantt-run Assembly, where leaders are wary of imposing criminal sentences for drivers involved in crashes.
The proposal now awaits action in the Assembly (A3759) in the Committee on Codes.
Unfortunately Assembly Codes Committee, Joe Lentol, has more sympathy for unlicensed drivers than for those maimed or killed by them. Brooklyn Democrat Lentol won’t let the bill out of his committee in the Assembly, stating “You can innocently kill somebody. Accidents happen.”
Yes, he said that. Read about it here.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie needs to order Lentol to stop blocking the bill.