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Unlicensed Driver Who Critically Injured Senior Faces 30 Days and $500 Fine

12:10 PM EST on November 26, 2013

The driver of this van barely slowed down as he turned into an occupied crosswalk, striking a senior. Image via Daily News. Video after the jump.
The driver of this van barely slowed down as he turned into an occupied crosswalk, striking a senior. He was charged with driving without a license. Image via Daily News. Video after the jump.
The driver of this van barely slowed down as he turned into an occupied crosswalk, striking a senior. Image via Daily News. Video after the jump.

Maude Savage did everything right. She used the crosswalk. She looked both ways before entering the street. She waited for the pedestrian signal. Then she was hit by an allegedly unlicensed motorist in a commercial van who drove into her while making a left turn at a high rate of speed.

The crash happened at around 12:25 p.m. Monday at Sutter and Euclid Avenues in Brooklyn, according to reports. Savage, 72, suffered head injuries and was taken to Brookdale Hospital, where she was in critical but stable condition.

From the Post:

"She was bleeding from her head," said Bruny Perez, a cashier at Mike’s Grocery Corp., where the woman had just shopped.

"She comes in the store every day," said Perez.

He added, "She had the right of way. The DirecTV truck was speeding down Euclid -- I don’t know how he didn’t see her."

Perez said he didn’t know the woman’s name, but he described her as “a very active lady” who also has an elderly sister and a son.

Court records indicate that driver Robert Brown was charged with third degree aggravated unlicensed operation, a misdemeanor that stipulates that he drove without a license when he knew or should have known he didn’t have one. He was also ticketed for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

A charge of third degree unlicensed operation is sometimes levied against unlicensed drivers whose recklessness causes the death of a pedestrian. In those cases, the going penalty for killing someone while driving illegally is a $500 fine.

Video of this crash, embedded below the jump, shows that the driver never really slows down while making a 90 degree turn into an occupied crosswalk. In a Street Justice column from last March, attorney Steve Vaccaro wrote that in order to charge a motorist with criminal negligence, it must be proven "that a defendant’s failure to perceive a risk constituted a 'gross deviation' from what a reasonable person would have perceived." That the behavior in this case apparently does not meet that standard is another sign that, when it comes to penalizing drivers who injure and kill, New York's criminal justice system is not working.

Yet if you read the comments on the Daily News story, several readers believe that because a DirecTV logo was painted on the van, Savage is in for a big payday. A couple of people seem to think the driver will get his just deserts. If Savage survives this crash, however, it's doubtful she would have standing to sue DirecTV in civil court, since many if not most who install the company's satellite dishes are independent contractors. In a statement cited by the Post, DirecTV said the driver of the van who hit Savage is not a DirecTV employee.

As for Brown, for a top charge of third degree unlicensed operation, the most severe penalty prescribed by law is a $500 fine and 30 days in jail. Had Brown not been accused of driving without a license, it's all but certain he would have faced no penalty whatsoever, like the thousands of drivers involved in similar crashes in New York City every year.

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