Brennan Bill Would Bar Crash Tax

March 18, 2011
Assemblymember Jim Brennan (D-Brooklyn) has introduced legislation, A.6337, which would prohibit the City of New York’s fire or police departments from imposing a charge or fee on drivers for services provided at the scene of a vehicular accident.

“City residents already pay taxes for these core, fundamental, public-safety services. People should not have to check their wallets before calling for the police or fire departments to respond to an accident,” Brennan said.

There have been instances where a city government has tried to impose a fee for providing emergency services at the scene of an accident. In order to prohibit such action, a State law is necessary because New York City does not need approval to change fee structures.

According to the New York City plan, which would begin in July, a vehicle fire or any other incident with injuries will cost $490. A vehicle fire without injuries will cost $415. And incidents without fire or injuries will cost $365. New York City officials project this policy will generate $1 million in annual revenue. Last year, the city responded to roughly 14,000 vehicle incidents in the five boroughs. Of those, about 2,900 involved fires and about 7,500 were accidents with injuries.

The new charges could apply to every vehicle involved in the incident if “motorist services” are provided. The bill from the FDNY will include instructions informing motorists that they can refer the bill to their insurance company. FDNY will have discretion over whether it bills motorists and could decide to not bill motorist if the accident is due to a tree falling on a car or if the accident is minor and no assistance was needed.

“For the safety of the general public as well as those who may be hurt at the accident scene, we want to be sure that those involved do not have any disincentive to call for help. These services are necessary and should not be used to generate extra revenue for the city,” stated Brennan.