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Gianaris bill that cracks down on unlicensed drivers passes state Senate

Gianaris days after Noshat Nahian’s death

June 7, 2017 By Jason Cohen

The state senate passed a bill this week that would punish motorists who kill while driving with a revoked, suspended or invalid license will felony charges.

In 2014, State Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), a long time safe streets advocate, introduced the bill following the death of two pedestrians at the hands of unlicensed drivers.

Currently, if an unlicensed driver kills someone they are charged with ‘aggravated unlicensed operation,’ which carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and 30 days in jail, though jail sentences are rare. This is essentially the same charge that applies if an unlicensed driver commits a traffic violation, according to Gianaris.

Gianaris announced his bill just days after an unlicensed truck driver killed 8-year-old Noshat Nahian while he was crossing Northern Boulevard on his way to school at PS 152 in Woodside in December 2013. The bill gain further momentum months later, when Angela Hurtado, 68, of Elmhurst, was killed by an unlicensed driver of an SUV as she crossed Grand Avenue.

“Too many lives have been lost at the hands of drivers who should not have been on the road in the first place,” Gianaris said. “I am glad the senate passed my bill and I urge the Assembly and Gov. Cuomo to follow suit and enact this important proposal into law immediately.”

The bill has been introduced in the Assembly but has yet come up for a vote.

“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,” said Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) in a statement.

“Deterrence is absolutely critical to saving innocent lives because we know that as things stand now unlicensed drivers are still getting behind the wheel,” Simotas, who is sponsoring the bill in the Assembly, said. 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.”

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5 Comments

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H

Ok… what about the ones on the damn scooter bikes! Driving on the sidewalk, wrong side of the street, weaving in an out of traffic… do something about that!

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young_man!

Driving without a license should be handled the same way as possession of a gun without a permit – a year in jail with no real way to get around it.
Seems ridiculous that injuring or killing someone while driving without a license isn’t already a felony.

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Jim

The technology exists to require a driver license to be scanned before starting a car. The car would then verify that the insurance is up to date. You could use bio data instead of a license so that you would know the person in the car is the same one authorized to drive it.

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George Mohr

I feel that uninsured drivers should be included in the bill. You can have a valid license and still drive an uninsured vehicle.

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Traffic Police

Now how about something for people drive without ever getting a license?

This bill only covers people that have a drivers license under Vehicle and Traffic Law 511.

If you don’t possess a license they can’t charge you under this bill……

You will be charged with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle VTL 509.

More focus needs to be put on unlicensed (and often times uninsured) drivers!

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