Drivers who flee the scene of an accident will now have to contend with new fines up to $10,000 from New York City on top of any criminal charges under a bill the City Council passed yesterday.
The bill would add the first local civil penalties for drivers in hit-and-run cases. The most serious violators would get hit with a fine between $5,000 and $10,000 if someone dies.
“We know that if we do nothing, drivers will feel empowered to continue to act in this reckless, dangerous and deadly manner,” said Councilman James Van Bramer, a sponsor of the bill. “There is absolutely no civil penalty in the City of New York for this whatsoever and that’s an outrage.”
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, transportation committee chair and bill sponsor, said district attorneys need tougher state laws to prosecute these drivers. He lamented the light sentence of a driver who killed 23-year-old Josbel Rivera on the Mosholu Parkway in the Bronx in 2011 after pleading guilty.“We recognize that the state has to act,” Rodriguez said.
No conviction during a prosecution for leaving the scene of a crime is required for a judge on a city panel that hears fines on quality-of-life laws, called the Environmental Control Board, to hand down the new penalties, though they can be appealed after they are paid.
Martha Puruncajas, the mother of 19-year-old Luis Bravo, who was killed in Queens last September by a driver who fled, attended the news conference for the hit-and-run bill.
“With this new bill, she has some kind of relief that the government is doing something to prevent more casualties,” said Maribel Egipciaco, a friend of Puruncajas’ and member of Make Queens Safer, Maribel Egipciaco.?