Council Bill Would Fine Drivers for Leaving the Scene of a Crash

Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Ydanis Rodriguez have introduced a bill that would impose civil penalties for hit-and-run crashes.

Intro 371 would attach escalating fines, based on injury severity, for violating Section 600 of the state traffic code, which deals with leaving the scene. Fines would begin at “not more than” $250 for drivers who leave the scene of a crash, $500 to $1,000 for a crash resulting in physical injury, $1,000 to $5,000 for a serious injury crash, and $2,000 to $5,000 for a fatal crash.

The bill refers to Article 10 of the state penal law for definitions of injury — “impairment of physical condition or substantial pain” — and serious injury — “injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes death or serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.”

Unlike Intro 238, a bill passed by the council last week that applies a strict liability standard to cases where motorists strike pedestrians or cyclists who have the right of way, Intro 371 would apply only when a driver “knows or has cause to know that physical injury has occurred.” This burden of proof gives rise to the “I didn’t see her” defense, often employed by hit-and-run drivers who avoid prosecution, even in cases where the victim dies.

Current state law gives drivers who have been drinking an incentive to flee the scene, as the criminal penalty for hit-and-run can be less severe than for causing injury while driving drunk. Albany has repeatedly failed to pass legislation that would toughen criminal penalties for leaving the scene.

  • Ian Turner

    This should also include a lien on the car.

  • Daphna

    I was in a situation where I was doored by a taxi. I was bruised up but not hurt badly. I got the taxi number. The driver stopped. I called the police to make an accident report. But the driver refused to stay until the police came. So it was a type of hit and run. The NYPD when they did come were hostile to me; they took down an accident report but I never got a copy since you have to buy a copy for $10. I never got to see if their report was accurate. The NYPD refused to issue the driver a summons (they could have done so using the taxi number I had) for leaving the scene even though he was required to stay by law, as I understood it.

    Will this new law, if it passes, help? What if the NYPD refuse to issue a summons?

  • lop

    Did you complain to TLC?

  • Mark

    As I understand it, the requirement to remain on the scene is to exchange certain information: Name, address, telephone, insurance, and so on. The driver is not normally required to remain on scene for a police report, as long as they exchange the required information.

    I think there’s deliberately a grey area here depending on the severity of the incident, but if someone gives their contact information in good faith the police were right not to charge him with leaving the scene. He didn’t,

    (If someone has the exact VTL link that would be great, I could only find the one pertaining to property damage, not injury.)

  • Mark

    Forgot to add, Are there any TLC regulations that would require they wait for police?

  • Ian Turner

    From the DMV website: “If a person is injured or killed, immediately notify the police. All the involved drivers and the police must file an accident report with the DMV. It is a crime to leave the scene of an accident that causes personal injury or death.”

  • Mark

    Thanks Ian, the requirement is slightly stricter than I thought.
    Of course regardless of the requirement I don’t know why anyone would choose not to wait for a police report if injury is involved, there is no good outcome there.

  • Ian Turner

    Maybe if a loved one was in the hospital and you were on the way there?


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