On Friday evening, New York Governor David Paterson signed two bills intended to make streets safer by giving law enforcement greater leeway to bring charges against reckless drivers.
As Streetsblog readers are well aware, New York City pedestrians and cyclists are seriously injured or killed by vehicular mayhem on a daily basis, but in the vast majority of cases, the motorist remains free to get right back behind the wheel. Even on crowded city streets, it's exceedingly rare for drivers who maim or kill to face consequences more serious than a traffic ticket.
One reason prosecutors hesitate to bring charges is that the standards for proving criminal negligence or recklessness can be difficult to meet. Hayley and Diego's Law, sponsored by Dan Squadron in the State Senate and Brian Kavanagh in the Assembly, creates an intermediate charge -- a traffic violation called careless driving -- which prosecutors can use in cases where criminal convictions seem unlikely. Motorists found guilty of careless driving will have to complete a driver education course and face fines up to $750, jail time up to 15 days, and license suspensions up to six months -- or a year for repeat offenders.
"We expect that the NYPD and District Attorneys are always looking at all the different options to hold people accountable for actions that lead to injuries and deaths," said Transportation Alternatives' senior policy advisor Peter Goldwasser. "With this law, we expect that they will be able to do that to an even greater degree and create a deterrent effect."
[Reading the full article is recommended.]
The full article: <a href="http://www.streetsblog.org/2010/08/16/paterson-signs-two-traffic-justice-bills-into-law/">http://www.streetsblog.org/2010/08/16/paterson-signs-two-traffic-justice-bills-into-law/</a>