Lifton: Assembly Bill Cracks Down on Hit-and-Run Drivers

May 4, 2005

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WFP-Tompkins/Cortland) announced the Assembly passed bipartisan legislation she sponsored to toughen the penalties for drivers who leave the scene of an accident in New York State.

"Hit-and-run drivers cause accidents that injure and kill people close to us, then flee without taking responsibility," Lifton said. "The legislation I sponsored will increase penalties for hit-and-run drivers, and help motorists reach their destinations safely."

The legislation targets hit-and-run drivers by increasing the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident where a death occurs (A.3327-A/S.4584). Under this law, the felony charge increases from Class E to Class D, raising the maximum sentence from 4 years to 7 years.

In addition, the penalty for the first offense of leaving the scene of an accident where personal injury has occurred is raised to a Class A misdemeanor, which means up to a year in jail. The penalty for a subsequent offense of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident is increased to a Class E felony, which means up to 4 years in prison.

"With the summer travel season coming up, more New Yorkers will be hitting the roadways," Lifton said. "Too many of our loved ones have had their lives impacted by hit-and-run drivers. Toughening the law sends a clear message that New York does not tolerate irresponsible motorists. It’s a serious crime with very serious consequences."

Lifton noted the Assembly also passed legislation strengthening penalties for vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter when serious physical injury or death is caused by a person driving drunk or impaired by drugs (A.6285-B/S.1872-B). The bill eliminates the element of criminal negligence currently required to prosecute these crimes – making it easier to indict individuals who commit them.