Albany (WBEN) -- The New York State Senate today approved a bill that would hold drunk drivers accountable for leaving the scene of an accident involving their vehicle without investigating it themselves and reporting it to law enforcement.
State Senator Patrick Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) sponsored the bill. The legislation follows the deadly drunk driving accident in Amherst that became the subject of a high-profile trial in Erie County.
On July 8, 2011, 18-year-old Alix Rice was killed by a drunk driver as she road home on her longboard. The driver argued that he was not aware he had hit a person and he was acquitted on the felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident.
“Intoxicated drivers are arguably the most likely to flee the scene of an accident to avoid being caught driving under the influence, and due to their intoxication and diminished awareness, they are also the least likely to know if they have struck an object or a person,” Senator Gallivan said in a news release. “This bill will close a dangerous loophole in the state’s vehicle and traffic law, and ensure that intoxicated drivers are held accountable for the tragic outcomes of their actions.”
The current law only requires drivers to report an accident when they know or have reason to know the accident resulted in an injury or property damage. Under this loophole, drunk drivers are able to flee the scene of an accident they caused and later claim they did not know any injury or damage occurred.
This bill would close that loophole so that drunk drivers are held responsible for leaving the scene of an accident.