Raia Demands Stiffer Penalties for Hit-and-Run Drivers

April 19, 2005

Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,C,I,WF-East Northport) stood united with his fellow Assembly minority colleagues and relatives of several hit-and-run victims to demand swift action for stiffer penalties against drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) and leaving the scene of a personal injury or fatal auto accident.

"For far too long the Assembly majority has failed to address this legislation that would go after individuals who, with harsh disregard, violate the law," Raia said. "I stand united with my Assembly minority colleagues and families who are victims of senseless acts of violence in working toward passage of this legislation."

Raia and the Assembly minority conference have proposed the Safety First Act of 2005 (A.1781). The legislation would increase the charge for leaving the scene of a fatal or serious injury auto accident from a Class E to a Class D felony, carrying a prison term of up to seven years, nearly double the potential sentences under the current law. Presently, drunk drivers who stay with their victims could face longer prison terms than those who recklessly flee the scene.

"It is unfathomable to believe that anyone, who cowardly runs away from the scene of a DWI accident which they have caused, can hide and sober up just so they could receive minimal jail time. For far too long perpetrators of these crimes have gotten off easy while their victims’ families have been left to wonder why. I call upon the members of the Assembly majority to join my minority colleagues and me to move for swift passage of this sensible legislation," Raia said.

Since it was first introduced in 1999, Assembly minority-sponsored hit-and-run legislation has not been allowed to come to the floor for a vote by Assembly majority, though similar bills have passed the state Senate.