Enacts "Elle's Law"; relates to the suspension of driving privileges.
BILL NUMBER: S7485
TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the penal law, in relation to creating the offense of vehicular assault in the third degree
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL : To establish new criminal sanctions in order to adequately deter and punish motorists who seriously injure pedestrians as a result of dangerous and unlawful driving.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS : Section 1 of the bill provides that the act shall be known as "Elle's Law". Section 2 of the bill would amend the Penal Law by adding new section 120.03-a, establishing the crime of Vehicular Assault in the Third Degree, a class E felony. Vehicular Assault in the Third Degree would be committed when a driver seriously injures a pedestrian and the driver was operating his-or her vehicle in violation of Title VII ("rules of the road") of the Vehicle & Traffic Law ("VTL") thereby causing the injury. Section 3 of the bill provides for an immediate effective date.
JUSTIFICATION : In 2009, 3-year-old Elle Vandenberghe was crossing the street in New York City when a motorist who had passed by an open parking spot, backed up the wrong way on a one-way street through an intersection and struck Elle while she was hi the crosswalk. Injuries sustained from the impact have left Elle with permanent brain damage and limited use the right side of her body. Doctors say that Elle may never walk again. Although the motorist displayed a blatant disregard for pedestrian safety and consequently left Elle permanently disabled, he was issued only a minor traffic infraction, paid a small fine and was free to get back behind the wheel, subject to no further penalty.
Current law fails to adequately address the significant problem of drivers who flagrantly violate and blatantly disregard the VTL's "rules of the road" by speeding, refusing to obey traffic signals, or by committing other "moving" violations, even when such driving results in the tragedy of a serious pedestrian injury. Prosecutors are unable to charge drivers who seriously injure innocent pedestrians under the existing Vehicular Assault laws, even when the serious injury was the direct result of the driver's VTL violation, unless it can be proven the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This unfortunate reality leaves our pedestrians vulnerable, offends the public conscience and invalidates the underlying objective of licensing drivers, and should be addressed.
In 2008 there were over 15,000 pedestrian/motor vehicle accidents in the State Of New York alone. More than half of those accidents were the direct fault of the motorist and left nearly 5,000 New Yorkers injured. 2% of the total pedestrian/motor vehicle accidents in 2008 were alcohol or drug related and carried criminal charges under current law, leaving thousands of New Yorkers and families of individuals who had been seriously injured with no legal recourse while allowing thousands of motorists who injured a pedestrian last year due to driver error to pay a minor traffic violation and get back behind the wheel.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : None.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None.
EFFECTIVE DATE : Act to take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7485 IN SENATE April 14, 2010 ___________Introduced by Sens. DILAN, FUSCHILLO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Transportation AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation to creating the offense of vehicular assault in the third degree THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as "Elle's Law". S 2. The penal law is amended by adding a new section 120.03-a to read as follows: S 120.03-A VEHICULAR ASSAULT IN THE THIRD DEGREE. A PERSON IS GUILTY OF VEHICULAR ASSAULT IN THE THIRD DEGREE WHEN HE OR SHE CAUSES SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURY TO A PEDESTRIAN BY OPERATION OF A VEHICLE WHEN SUCH SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURY WAS CAUSED IN WHOLE OR SUBSTANTIAL PART BY THE ACTOR'S VIOLATION OF ANY SECTION OR SECTIONS CONTAINED WITHIN TITLE SEVEN OF THE VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW, OTHER THAN SECTION ELEVEN HUNDRED NINETY-TWO OF SUCH TITLE. VEHICULAR ASSAULT IN THE THIRD DEGREE IS A CLASS E FELONY. CONVICTION OF A CRIME PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION SHALL, ALONG WITH OTHER PENALTIES OTHERWISE APPLICABLE, CARRY WITH IT A LICENSE REVOCATION PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION TWO OF SECTION FIVE HUNDRED TEN OF THE VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW OF UP TO SEVEN YEARS. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD16811-01-0