Is Killing Someone While Unlicensed Worse Than Turning Without a Signal?

After the death of Angela Hurtado, we wrote that aggravated unlicensed operation in the third degree is “a go-to top charge” for prosecutors when an unlicensed driver kills someone. But the story of Orlando Findlayter suggests it’s a catch-all for any traffic offense committed while driving without a license.

In case you missed it, Findlayter is a supporter of Mayor Bill de Blasio who was arrested Monday night in Brooklyn, after police reportedly stopped him for making a left turn without signaling and found that he did not have a valid license. Reports say Findlayter had two outstanding warrants, but the charge stemming from the traffic stop was third degree aggravated unlicensed operation — an unclassified misdemeanor that stipulates that he drove without a license when he knew or should have known he didn’t have one. It carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

As in the Hurtado case, third degree aggravated unlicensed operation was the top charge against the drivers who killed pedestrians Maude SavageNicole Detweiler, Noshat Nahian, Rafael Diaz, Yolanda Casal, Laurence Renard, and Ibrihim Ahmed. In none of those cases was the driver charged with a more serious offense for causing a death.

Based on the charge against Findlayter, it appears that in the eyes of NYPD and city district attorneys, killing someone with a car merits the same penalty as failing to use a turn signal.

  • Andrew

    Wait. The NYPD stops people for turning without signaling?

  • Kevin Love

    Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, not only are killer car drivers prosecuted accordingly, but unlicensed ones are denied bail and stay in jail until their trial. Because the judges tend to believe that they are incapable of obeying the bail condition that forbids them from driving. For example, see:

    http://www.saultstar.com/2013/09/10/suspect-in-fatality-denied-bail

  • Fits their MO perfectly. Easy to spot, easy to catch, raises revenue, tends to catch ordinary folks who happened to make a mistake, and punishes behavior that isn’t terribly dangerous.

  • Emmily_Litella

    Tonight, 8th Ave Bike path at 48th St. Patrol car parked in clear bike lane forcing bikes onto adjacent ice while patrolman behind the wheel played with smartphone. These are the people we depend on to serve and protect us.

  • Mia

    It is very dangerous. As a pedestrian, I’m unfortunately having to guess what a driver will do every time I try to cross the street, because as we know many drivers don’t yield while turning. Having an indication that a turn is intended lets me be even more on guard.

    NYPD should absolutely be enforcing this. As well as many other infractions, like failure to yield, speeding, and running red lights. They should just do their damn jobs.

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