Fitzpatrick: ‘Hit, Run and Hide’ Legislation First Success On ‘Must-Do’ List Before Session End
May 10, 2005
Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) is hailing Assembly passage of "hit, run and hide" legislation that will increase the penalties for drivers who leave the scene of fatal or personal injury accidents. The state Senate earlier passed the legislation and Gov. George Pataki said he will sign it into law. Legislative approval came with 22 legislative days remaining in the 2005 session. Fitzpatrick is using the occasion to join his minority colleagues in calling on the Assembly to address legislative priorities, such as civil confinement and small business improvement, that are on the minority’s "must-do" list before adjourning. "The hit, run and hide legislation provides added protection from the actions of cowardly, dangerous and sometimes drunk drivers who flee the scenes of accidents," said Fitzpatrick. "The legislation cannot replace or restore families devastated by thoughtless drivers, but it will eliminate a loophole in the current law and provide a sentence that more appropriately fits their crimes." Under current law, drunk drivers who flee the scenes of accidents often receive lesser punishments than if they stayed and took responsibility for their actions or helped their victims. Under the new law, the charge for leaving the scene of a fatal accident will increase from a Class E felony to a Class D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison. The charge for leaving the scene of a personal injury accident will become a Class A misdemeanor rather than the current Class B misdemeanor. "The Legislature has seven weeks before the end of the 2005 session, so we now need to focus our attention on civil confinement legislation and improving the economic health of small businesses throughout New York," said Fitzpatrick. New York’s economy depends in large part on the success and growth of its small businesses, said Fitzpatrick. He noted that the Assembly minority has proposed the Small Business Improvement Act of 2005 to provide necessary assistance to small businesses by:
- Establishing a Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform in statute
- Expanding the Main Street Revitalization program (EZ Main Street) by providing grants to upgrade and renovate downtown and main street façades that, in turn, would encourage a rebirth of these important economic centers
- Restoring the 1 percent lower tax rate for small-business owners
- Providing small businesses with health insurance, training and energy tax credits.