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Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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New York law proposes felony if suspended driver causes death

Lawmakers in New York and other states have difficult tasks. They must balance individual rights with preserving public safety. Sometimes, as is often the case with traffic laws, laws must be adjusted. Any number of reasons could lead to a law being reformed, such as no longer being applicable or in order to create stricter punishments for breaking laws. When fines or points on a driver's license do not encourage motorists to obey traffic laws, lawmakers develop and enact more severe consequences in order to ensure the roads remain safe.

A proposed New York traffic law will soon be considered in the state Assembly, following a unanimous passing vote in the state's Senate. If someone causes the death of another person while driving with a suspended license, the new law would make it a mandatory felony offense. Under current law, motorists may be able to plead down their charges, possibly avoiding any jail time. 

The law was developed by a woman in response to a driver with a suspended license being fined less than $600 for hitting and killing a her sister. The man accused of causing the fatal accident allegedly had eight license suspensions at the time the accident occurred and only had to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge. The specific charge was not reported.

 Consequences for traffic violations can range from minimal penalties, like fines or points on your license, to much more severe punishments such as license suspensions or revocations and even jail sentences. It is more than likely in your best interests to speak with an attorney if you are facing traffic charges, especially if they are criminal charges. Legal representation that is familiar with the laws in your area can answer your questions and help you to understand your options.

Source: Times Herald-Record, “’Teresita’s Law’ passes NY Senate”, Nathan Brown, April 30, 2013

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