Oaks Demands Stiffer Penalties for Hit-and-Run Drivers

April 13, 2005

Assemblyman Robert Oaks (R,C-Macedon) and members of the Assembly minority conference today joined Glenville Police Chief Dan Boyle and relatives of several hit-and-run victims to call for stiffer penalties for drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) and leaving the scene of a personal injury or fatal auto accident.

"This legislation is important to all New Yorkers," Oaks said. "People who leave the scene of an accident should be held responsible for their actions and face stiffer penalties."

According to Oaks, the Assembly minority conference is proposing 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, which carries a prison term of up to seven years – nearly double the current penalty.

Under current law, drunk drivers who stay at accident scenes with their victims face longer prison terms than those who flee. The measure would also create the crime of aggravated DWI for drivers with excessively high blood-alcohol contents and repeat offenders.

This week marks the 25th annual commemoration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. First proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, the observance is meant to highlight the services available to crime victims, as well as advocate for their rights.

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

Constituents wishing to voice their concerns about the proposed legislation may contact Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at (518) 455-3791 or via e-mail at speaker@assembly.state.ny.us.