Assemblymember Joseph Lentol was joined by Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez on Thursday, September 7 to announce the Hit-and-Run Prevention Act, a series of initiatives that aim to reduce the number of hit-and-run incidents citywide.
“Unfortunately, my district has seen too many hit-and-runs. We have countless cyclists and they are more susceptible to being seriously injured or killed when involved in a collision,” said Lentol, who represents Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Fort Greene among other neighborhoods in northern Brooklyn. “I am hopeful that these initiatives will bring clarity to the importance of staying on the scene of an accident, provide a mechanism to increase the chances of finding a hit-and-run suspect, and also de-incentivize people that are intoxicated from leaving. I know my colleagues on both sides of the aisle know the importance of saving people’s lives.”
The act’s initiatives will include a $1 million public education campaign and a hit-and-run alert system as well as closing the hit-and-run intoxication loophole, the last of which will increase the penalty for leaving the scene of a crime resulting in serious physical injury from a Class E Felony to a Class D Felony. Similarly, the penalty for leaving the scene of a crime resulting in death would be increased from a Class D Felony to a Class C Felony.
“These tools will help us keep pedestrians, cyclists and drivers in Brooklyn safe so I strongly urge the legislature to enact these common sense measures into law,” added Gonzalez.
Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives – a non-profit organization which advocates for safer streets – expressed support.
“We applaud this crucial action by our state lawmakers, which will eliminate the perverse incentive under current law for drunk drivers to leave the scene of a crash,” said Steely White. “The $1 million allocated for public education is essential to making sure every New Yorker knows you can’t evade responsibility for your actions when driving, and that there truly is no excuse for a hit-and-run.”
The bill, Lentol said, will be introduced in the upcoming legislative session that begins in January.