State Senate Bill Would Wipe Bad Driving Records Clean
A bill introduced in the Senate this month could make New York roads and streets more dangerous while dealing a severe setback to the state’s traffic justice movement.
S5958 would permit drivers to conceal records of traffic violations three years after sentencing. First brought to our attention by a column in the Glens Falls Post-Star, the bill is sponsored by Senator Eric Schneiderman, who represents Upper Manhattan and parts of the Bronx. We’re still parsing the details, but it appears the bill would allow for the sealing of records pertaining to traffic convictions after 36 months, with a handful of exceptions including driving under the influence.
Needless to say, this would be a significant obstacle to keeping dangerous drivers off New York State roads.
"For the countless number of businesses who have employees that
regularly get behind the wheel of a car, truck, or tractor trailer, to
summarily deny them the opportunity to first check the driving records
of their prospective employees for past incidents of dangerous driving
makes no sense at all," Transportation Alternatives General Counsel Peter Goldwasser told Streetsblog.
Worse, perhaps, would be its effect on efforts to secure justice for victims of traffic violence. As we have reported, advocates and prosecutors are in the midst of a years-long fight to beef up state codes to punish drivers who injure and kill. Beyond the tangible impact of giving reckless drivers a clean slate, for lawmakers to send the message that traffic crimes are insignificant, even cumulatively, would be a major blow. Says Nassau County vehicular crimes prosecutor Maureen McCormick: "It is a bad piece of legislation that goes directly against what
should be happening — greater transparency in driving records."
If there’s a silver lining to be found in Albany these days, it’s that S5958 may not see a vote this session. As of this writing it has not been picked up in the Assembly.
Streetsblog has a message in with Schneiderman’s office about the reasoning behind the bill.