The only thing that can prevent the adoption of New York state’s first "vulnerable users law" is Governor Paterson’s veto pen. Hayley and Diego’s Law, named in memory of two pre-schoolers killed by a van left idling by a Chinatown sidewalk, would make it easier for law enforcement to file charges against motorists who injure or kill pedestrians and cyclists. It will go into effect in a matter of days as long as the governor doesn’t explicitly reject it.
Last week, the Assembly officially presented the bill to Governor Paterson, setting in a motion a 10-day countdown that ends this Friday. If Paterson signs it, the bill becomes law. If he ignores it, the bill also becomes law once the countdown expires. The governor would have to veto the bill, overturning a 38-23 vote in the State Senate and a 137-0 vote in the Assembly, to prevent it from becoming law.
We have a request in with the Governor’s office to see where he stands.
If the bill clears this final hurdle, the next question is how police and prosecutors will adjust. By defining the offense of "careless driving," the law should lessen the apparent reluctance of law enforcement to charge drivers who maim and kill on crowded city streets.