Failure to Yield, Like Reckless Driving, May Now Become a Criminal Offense in NYC

When Mayor Bill de Blasio took office last year, he prioritized a plan to eliminate all traffic fatalities in New York City. To reform the city’s driving culture, de Blasio implemented a policy called Vision Zero, which imposed new guidelines on city motorists. One notable guideline that may have the greatest effect on drivers is the new standard of punishment for failing to yield to pedestrians—a citation that is understandably common in the congested Big Apple.

A driver that hits a pedestrian after failing to yield may now face criminal charges and jail time. With the strict new punishment, a failure to yield summons is now comparable to a reckless driving summons—which also exposes offenders to criminal charges and possible jail time. This is a departure from the historical criminal standard in New York City, when a driver only faced criminal charges for hitting a pedestrian after committing an additional aggravated offense, such as speeding, or running a red light.

The new criminal standard for failing to yield affects all New York City drivers, but there is one group that is especially worried about the strict punishment: bus drivers. Last year, 17 people were arrested for failing to yield to pedestrians, and six of those were bus drivers. City councilmen I. Daneek Miller, who is a former bus driver, is pushing to pass a law that exempts the city’s bus drivers from the new punishments, but as of now the law applies to everyone.

The goal to eradicate all traffic fatalities in busy New York City is a lofty goal, to say the least. But the plan to punish those who fail to yield sends a clear message: drive carefully or else! The increased punishments aim to strike fear in the minds of all city motorists, and it is that altered consciousness that de Blasio seeks to target to achieve his ultimate goal of changing the culture of city driving.

Failure to yield to a pedestrian is the most common summons in New York City. With offenders now facing criminal charges and jail time, in addition to license points and hefty fines, it is wise to contact an experienced traffic attorney to protect yourself from the dire consequences. Not only can consulting an attorney keep you from landing behind bars, it can also save you money.

For a free consultation with an experienced attorney, contact the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-883-5529.

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