Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Carl Heastie

Tougher Penalties for Unlicensed Drivers Who Hurt and Kill People Now in Carl Heastie’s Hands

Carl Heastie can help prevent crashes like the one that killed 8-year-old Noshat Nahian. Will he do it? Image: WNBC via Daily News

For the second year in a row, the State Senate has passed legislation to elevate penalties for unlicensed drivers who injure and kill people. Now, it's up to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to ensure it reaches Governor Cuomo's desk.

Carl Heastie
Carl Heastie
Carl Heastie

The bill would make it a class E felony to cause serious injury or death while driving without a valid license, as long as the license was suspended or revoked for traffic offenses. State Senator Michael Gianaris has tried to push the bill through Albany for the past several years, in response to a number of deaths in his district.

In one of those crashes, truck driver Mauricio Osorio-Palominos killed 8-year-old Noshat Nahian on Northern Boulevard in Woodside. Osorio-Palominos was charged with third degree aggravated unlicensed operation -- a low-level misdemeanor that tends to be the default charge for killing someone while driving without a valid license in NYC.

For taking the life of a child while driving a semi truck through New York City without a valid drivers license, Osorio-Palominos, who had a history of traffic violations and license suspensions, faced a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. The outcome of the case is unknown, but defendants charged with aggravated unlicensed operation usually plead guilty and are sentenced to a fine with no jail time.

In some cases, police and district attorneys file no charges against unlicensed drivers who kill. Last October, an unlicensed driver backed over 8-month-old Navraj Raju as his mother pushed him in a stroller on an Astoria Boulevard sidewalk. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown declined to charge that driver with a crime.

Since the launch of NYC’s Vision Zero initiative in 2014, motorists without valid licenses have killed at least 24 people walking and riding bikes, according to data tracked by Streetsblog.

The Assembly version of the Gianaris bill, sponsored by Queens rep Aravella Simotas, is currently in the codes committee, where it stalled in 2016. It has four co-sponsors.

“The law needs to be strengthened, not just to punish, but more importantly, to create a powerful deterrent to driving with a suspended or revoked license,” Simotas told the Times Ledger. “Deterrence is absolutely critical to saving innocent lives because we know that as things stand now unlicensed drivers are still getting behind the wheel. I’m still hopeful we can get this done before the legislative session ends and send the message that unlicensed driving is a serious crime.”

As the person in charge of the Assembly, Heastie, who represents the Bronx, can see to it that this bill gets to Cuomo if he chooses. We have a message in with Heastie's office asking if he supports it.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

SUV Driver Kills Girl, 3, in Harlem, Wounds Mom And Young Brothers

The girl's death marks another grim entry into a crisis of pedestrian traffic deaths this year.

July 12, 2024

Moped and E-Bike Safety Legislation Becomes State Law

Retailers must register mopeds at the point of sale, in addition to giving new owners safety information, under new legislation signed by Gov. Hochul on Thursday.

July 12, 2024

Roadway Dining May See Dramatic Decline Under Eric Adams As Deadline Looms

Fewer than two dozen restaurants are in the pipeline for roadside seating, according to public records.

July 12, 2024

Opinion: Congestion Pricing Is A Compromise

Alternatives paths to cut congestion and pollution and fund the MTA make congestion tolls look like a cheap parlor trick.

July 12, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: Department of Victim Blaming Edition

Traffic deaths in the city are on pace to reach their highest number since at least 2013 — and DOT is reportedly blaming "jaywalking." Plus more news.

July 12, 2024
See all posts