DMV Revoked License of Driver Who Killed Allison Liao for Just 30 Days

The motorist who killed 3-year-old Allison Liao could be back behind the wheel before long, as the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles revoked his license for just 30 days.

Photo: Brad Aaron

Following a hearing in early January, DMV administrative law judge Sidney Fuchs determined that Ahmad Abu-Zayedeh failed to yield the right of way when he ran over Allison as she walked hand in hand with her grandmother across Main Street in Flushing on October 6, 2013. The DMV revoked Abu-Zayedeh’s license, but the length of the revocation was not announced.

“The respondent failed to use due care, as required by VTL Section 1146, to avoid colliding with a pedestrian,” Fuchs wrote in his January 13 decision [PDF]. “There was no credible testimony as to why the respondent did not avoid this collision.”

Though Fuchs found Abu-Zayedeh at fault, he could be driving again as soon as March. A revocation period of “at least 30 days” begins on February 13, according to DMV documents. After 30 days, Abu-Zayedeh may petition the DMV to have his driving privileges reinstated.

Amy Tam and Hsi-Pei Liao, Allison’s parents, were not available for comment, but issued a statement through their attorney, Steve Vaccaro: “While Judge Fuchs correctly determined that the driver failed to use due care, it is shocking to learn that this is the official consequence of such an outrageous act.”

The DMV does not publicly post records of hearing outcomes or license revocations and suspensions, making it exceedingly difficult to gauge how this 30-day penalty compares to other cases. However, driving while intoxicated carries a mandatory six-month license revocation, as does “homicide, assault or criminal negligence resulting in death from the operation of a motor vehicle,” according to the DMV.

Last year, Families For Safe Streets met with DMV representatives to recommend several agency reforms, including regular publication of hearing outcomes and other data. The DMV has not contacted Families For Safe Streets since then and has not said if it plans to reform its protocols.

  • Wow…stunning.

  • BBnet3000

    I haven’t driven in over 30 days. This is apparently the same “punishment” meted out for this? This case has been absolutely horrifying every step of the way and the DMV’s unwillingness to take a demonstrably unsafe driver (and perjurer) out from behind the wheel tops it off.

  • SteveVaccaro

    The fact that the penalty is so much less for killing a person while sober, compared to injuring a person while drunk, demonstrates how much work remains to be done.

  • Eric McClure

    Infuriating.

    #FixtheDMV

  • Hilda

    Also please remember, that this seemingly minuscule amount of justice for such an atrocious act of recklessness, is only coming to the attention of the DMV because of tireless and courageous action by the parents of of Allison, the advocates and supporters of Families for Safe Streets, and the hard work of their representation by Vaccaro and White.

    The fact that there was a hearing, that it made the news, and that there was a judgment is so unusual, so the result itself is enormous.

    This is 480 days since the collision. 1 year, 3 months, 23 days til there has been some official statement that there was wrongdoing, that there was fault.

  • Cold Shoaler

    My heart goes out to those who put so much into this. I hope they find some sollice in the progress this judgement represents. Per the comments here, this means so little and so much at the same time. Families For Safe Streets, et al have my gratitude as a pedestrian and a father. It tempers my cynicism over the pittance of a punishment meted out here. My hope is that their accomplishment is something upon which real change can be built. The DMV can and must be reformed.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Who would insure this guy, even if he had a license?

  • Joe R.

    You think people like him even care about insurance?

  • tbatts666

    It must be tough for these parents to relive their child’s death over and over with stalled justice.

    They are heroes. Hopefully their push on the dmv and the city can prevent more needless deaths and injuries.

  • Joe R.

    Allison’s parents are foot soldiers in a war which will doubtless be long, bloody, and often with many pyrrhic victories. Yes, they are heroes, and it will take many more like them before our streets are safe. I feel I’ll be lucky to see that in my lifetime, but maybe at least history will show this case was a turning point. I only wish there were more we could all do collectively but I fear if we advocate what really must be done, we’ll make more enemies than gain followers. It will take an awakening by the public to realize how much sacrifice on the part of everyone has been a result of the status quo.

  • Larry Littlefield

    If the only people driving were safe drivers, the insurance companies would be taking vig on a much smaller dollar value total.

  • dporpentine

    Ever since I read this on Friday I’ve been thinking about what it must be like to be the judge here.
    Just think of sitting down one day and thinking, “How do I render justice in this case? On the one hand, a guy who was maybe not legally drunk simply drove over a three-year-old and denies even the tiniest bit of responsibility for his actions. On the other hand”–what? What’s the “on the other hand” here?

  • Windshield perspective.

  • armyvet05

    This is exactly the thing that makes so little sense- we expect drunk people to drive poorly due to the exaggeration of being intoxicated, which is why we outlaw it. What excuse does a (legally) sober person have to be this poor of a driver? Why does the law not also protect us from the unskilled driver that kills people due to no other reason than being a bad driver?

  • Kevin Love

    I would not say “bad.” I would say “criminal negligence.”

  • armyvet05

    I would not disagree, but it seems the laws don’t mirror our opinion or adequately capture this conduct.

  • Moncada’s Codpiece

    Yeah, but that’s thirty whole days. It’s practically house arrest!

  • Moncada’s Codpiece

    Almost half the life that Allison was able to live.

  • Andrew

    “On the other hand, I don’t always bother to watch for pedestrians either when I’m turning, so this could have been me.”

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