Serial Unlicensed Driver Gets Misdemeanor Charge in Brooklyn Death

A man with an outstanding charge for driving without a license fatally struck a pedestrian in Brooklyn last December but faces only a second charge of unlicensed driving after taking someone’s life.

Two drivers hit Nicole Detweiler as she crossed McGuinness Boulevard at Nassau Avenue in the early evening hours of December 29, 2013. Detweiler, 32, died at the scene.

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson. Image: ##
Since charges filed by former Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes were not upgraded by current DA Ken Thompson (pictured), a man who reportedly killed a pedestrian six days after an arrest for driving without a license faces a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Image: ##–brooklyn-da-candidate-thompson-responds-to-attacks##NY1##

Reports said the second driver to strike Detweiler was Roberto Amador, then 35. Amador, who was driving a box truck, was arrested and charged for driving without a license.

According to DNAinfo, Amador had been arrested less than a week earlier for driving with a suspended license after he collided with a cab on the Upper West Side. His license was suspended last May, the report said, because he didn’t pay “a recurring fee drivers pay the DMV for various infractions.” DMV imposed the fee after Amador accumulated six license points between December 2011 and May 2013, DNAinfo reported.

Court records say Amador was charged by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance last December 23 with second degree unlicensed operation, a charge that may be applied when a defendant is caught driving without a license after prior convictions for unlicensed driving, or when the defendant’s license was previously suspended or revoked pursuant to a drug or alcohol related driving offense. Despite the outstanding unlicensed driving charge when he hit Nicole Detweiler six days later, and Amador’s driving history, former Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes levied a top charge of third degree unlicensed operation — a less severe charge than the one applied by Vance — according to court records.

In other words, after being involved in a fatal crash while driving without a license, Amador was simply charged again for unlicensed driving, with no additional charges for killing a pedestrian. Charges against Amador were not upgraded by Hynes’s successor, current Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson.

Aggravated unlicensed operation tends to be the default top charge against unlicensed drivers who kill New York City pedestrians. It’s also applied against unlicensed drivers who commit non-criminal traffic infractions. Third degree unlicensed operation carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. State lawmakers failed this year to pass legislation to make it a felony to kill or injure someone while driving without a license.

Roberto Amador was released without bail the day after the crash that killed Nicole Detweiler, according to court records. He is scheduled to appear in court for the Manhattan unlicensed driving charge later this month, and is due back before a judge in Brooklyn in August. In the meantime, he remains free to drive.

  • Someone remind me, what is the point of drivers licenses? You can apparently do anything with a vehicle once you have one, and you will never lose it.

  • BBnet3000

    I’m far from perfect but i’ve never had a problem maintaining a drivers license. I would guess that pretty much marks you as a bad driver or irresponsible asshole one way or another, who should not be on the road.

  • Flakker

    or, like, don’t get one. who cares

  • Mat50

    has anyone proposed any legislation to correct this situation to something more appropriate?

  • A drivers license is very handy. Without one, the cops can arrest you for not showing an ID when they pull you over for running a red light on your bicycle.

  • BBnet3000

    You can get a state ID that is not a drivers license.

  • Devan

    In this country, a drivers license is also apparently a license to kill with impunity. Or in this case, to kill even without one and get away with it knowing that the law will protect you. So if you wanted to (deliberately) kill someone that you don’t like, and get away with it — using your car to run them over would be an excellent way to do it.

  • Flakker

    Yes. It’s linked in the article.

  • SheRidesABike

    True, but there are all kinds of ways that a lack of DL can be used against you in many places, which goes somewhat to Doug’s point. Years ago in Seattle I couldn’t get a passport using my state-issued ID-only card — even though it was issued by the DMV. The officials made me bring someone back who had a DL who could vouch for my identity. I’d even brought my social security card and birth certificate, but they preferred to take the word of my stoner bf. Who I later discovered actually would drive stoned, btw.

  • BBnet3000

    Um, wtf? Thats really ridiculous that they wouldnt take a state issued ID and frankly someone should probably have gotten in trouble for that.

    Im assuming thats less likely to happen in New York where a decent number of people have IDs rather than DLs.

  • nycbikecommuter

    How about making driving without a license a felony in itself?

  • Nathanael

    Of course, that’s illegal on the part of the cops; they’re not allowed to demand an ID card.

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    DA Ken Thompson is soft on serious crime. Please repeat this far and wide until he is no longer soft on serious crime.


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