One NYC Council member has been pushing for tougher penalties for dangerous drivers. Councilman Brad Lander announced new legislation in June 2018 that would take away vehicles from drivers who put others at risk or who have racked up multiple violations within a year. The bill has yet to come up for a vote.
The legislation comes just a few months after the tragic deaths of two young children on a Park Slope street corner.
“Even with the good work we’ve done through Vision Zero, being hit by a vehicle is the main cause of injury-related death for children under 14, and the second most common cause for seniors in New York City,” said Lander, “the Reckless Driver Accountability Act takes an innovative, data-driven, and restorative approach that will make NYC a leader in reducing dangerous driving and saving lives.”
Lander’s proposed bill has three main components:
- Cars tagged by five or more speed or red-light cameras within one year would be booted or impounded until their drivers completed a to-be-created Reckless Driver Accountability Program. The owners of vehicles that receive four camera violations will be issued a warning notice and get the chance to take the accountability course for a “small fee.” Those who opt out of the course and later incur a fifth violation will then have 10 days to enroll or else have their car impounded or booted.
While only 1% of drivers actually manage to rack up five offenses in the span of a year, that still works out to about 26,000 dangerously driven vehicles on New York streets.
Dorothy Bruns, the driver who killed two children in Park Slope, had eight violations in the last two years on her record. She also previously had her license suspended and was involved in a hit and run. Bruns was later arrested and faces up to 15 years in jail.
- NYC would expand the Driver Accountability Program currently available from the Center for Court Innovation in Red Hook and Staten Island. The course is a group intervention program for drivers who plead guilty in arrests for a variety of driving offenses.
- The city would conduct an annual study on dangerous driving, which would be used to recommend further efforts to reduce dangerous driving. Vision Zero already collects data on the design and role of streets and intersections in traffic crashes, but it doesn’t specifically focus on reckless drivers.
To date, the “Reckless Driver Accountability Act” has the support of 12 City Council members, along with the endorsement of many local leaders in traffic and street safety. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is also on board. Mayor de Blasio has voiced support of state legislation to create a stricter system of medical reporting for impaired drivers, along with an increase in fines for traffic violations. De Blasio also revealed a redesign of 9th Street in Park Slope by the NYC Department of Transportation designed to increase safety and reduce future tragedies.
Under the current law, a driver can be charged with reckless driving if he/she is found to be acting in a way that is unreasonable and which either presents a serious risk of harm or prohibits use of the roadway by other drivers. Reckless driving is considered a misdemeanor offense and those who are convicted will have a permanent criminal record. There is also the potential for up to 30 days in jail, nearly $400 in fines, and five points on one’s license.
If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless driving or any other traffic-related offense in New York, you need the help of a skilled attorney. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic attorneys who can fight to protect your rights. Call 888-203-2619 or email us for a free consultation about your case today.