Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. today called upon New York lawmakers to pass the Vehicular Violence Accountability Act early in the next legislative session.
In a Streetsblog op-ed entitled Op-Ed: Move Quickly on the Vehicular Violence Accountability Act, D.A. Vance cautions that New York City “is experiencing an epidemic of vehicular violence that has killed 29 of our Manhattan neighbors so far this year, and injured thousands more.”
The Vehicular Violence Accountability Act would enable more prosecutions of dangerous drivers by creating a new article of the Penal Law titled “Vehicular Violence,” and establishing the new crimes of “Death By Vehicle,” a class A misdemeanor, and “Serious Physical Injury by Vehicle,” a class B misdemeanor. These offenses would escalate to a class E felony and class A misdemeanor, respectively, when there are aggravating factors, such as recent vehicular convictions, speeding more than 20 miles above the speed limit, or committing more than one moving violation at a time.
D.A. Vance announced the Vehicular Violence Accountability Act last month alongside bill sponsors Senator Tim Kennedy (Chair of the Transportation Committee), Senator Brad Hoylman, Transportation Alternatives, and Families for Safe Streets. The legislation was drafted by the D.A.’s Office on the recommendation of a special grand jury empaneled by D.A. Vance.
“The Vehicular Violence Accountability Act would fix fundamentally broken laws so that more drivers who injure or kill can be held accountable,” writes D.A. Vance in Streetsblog. “It reflects what we’ve heard time and again from survivors and their families, who are not looking for us to throw the book at dangerous drivers. Rather, they are asking us to fix the law in order to empower survivors, to remove driving privileges from habitually reckless people, and to achieve some measure of accountability for acts that are not covered” under current law.