Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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Plea entered, sentencing scheduled after fatal wrong-way crash

The State of New York has many laws and regulations that apply to drivers on our roadways. Many of these laws address relatively minor issues, such as noise pollution, and the punishment for minor violations often comes in the form of fines.

Because the potential punishments for many traffic offenses are relatively minor, many people make the mistake of not taking traffic citations seriously. However, many offenses under New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law carry the possibility of severe sentences, including incarceration. When an alleged violation of a traffic law results in a death or injury, the legal consequences can escalate quickly.

Many of you may recall a serious wrong-way accident that claimed the life of a passenger on the New England Thruway in New Rochelle last summer. News reports indicated that an Ozone Park woman drove her car in the wrong direction in the southbound lanes of I-95 for about 6.4 miles before having a head-on collision with another vehicle at about 4:30 in the morning.

All the people involved in the crash needed to be freed from the wreckage and rushed to local hospitals for treatment. Even while recovering from the injuries sustained in the crash, the Ozone Park woman was arraigned on criminal charges while in her hospital bed. Law enforcement authorities alleged that her blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit at the time of the accident.

Recently she pleaded guilty to a long list of traffic-related charges, including vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, aggravated DWI and reckless driving. As a result of the charges against her, she faced a maximum of 25 years in prison. However, the Westchester County judge handling the case has remarked that she will sentence the defendant to three to nine years in prison as a result of her guilty plea. Sentencing is scheduled to take place in April.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, "Guilty plea in NY crash that killed NJ man," Jan. 31, 2012, "Guilty Plea In New Rochelle I-95 Wrong Way Fatal Crash," Jan. 31, 2012

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