Bill targets drag racers – QNS.com

Bill targets drag racers

New York State Senator Frank Padavan announced on June 18 that the state Senate had passed a bill that would increase penalties for drag racing from misdemeanor to felony for repeat offenders. “Michelle and Jordan’s Law,” named for two young victims of drag racing accidents, passed the Senate with unanimous bipartisan support.
“We need to do everything we can to keep our streets safe from people who would use them for street racing,” said Padavan, who co-sponsored the bill. “The accident in our community last [May] was a tragic and senseless loss of a young life and such crimes must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This bill specifically addresses the crime of street racing in order to stop people from putting innocent lives at risk.”
Passage of the bill follows the tragic death of five-year-old Queens resident Jordan McLean, last month, who was thrown from his aunt’s SUV and killed when drag racers struck the vehicle. The accident occurred on 109th Avenue in Queens, a notorious drag racing hot spot, where the SUV was faced with two cars head on. One of the cars, a BMW, crashed into the SUV, while the other drove away. The passengers who crashed the BMW fled but the alleged driver of the BMW, Shelmar Adams, turned himself in last May. He was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
Police suspected that an accident in Buffalo later that day was also caused by illegal speed racing.
“[Street racing exists] in any borough,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “It happens all over, not in any one part [but] in any upper or middle income community.”
Last July, 17-year-old Michelle Arout, of Staten Island, was killed during a street race between her 16-year-old driver and another teen driver. She was thrown from the back seat when her vehicle, which sliced in half, swerved off the road. The cars were both driving between 89 and 90 miles per hour.
The victim’s father, John Arout, joined members of the Senate Majority Conference last April when the bill was announced at a Capitol news conference.
“This was a tragedy that was completely preventable,” said Arout. “Our hope is to prevent other families from going through this pain - no parent should have to bury their child. We are not trying to stop teens from driving. We’re trying to prevent crashes and save lives.”
The bill, which amends state Penal Law to include the crimes of speed contests and races, now states that any individual convicted of speed street racing would face a Class A misdemeanor, punishable up to one year in prison or a fine between $525 and $725.
“With the Senate passage of this legislation today we are sending a clear message that reckless and dangerous street racing will face serious criminal penalties. I urge the Assembly to follow the lead of the Senate and to pass this important legislation immediately and help protect our roads from street and drag racing,” Padavan said.
The statewide bill will draw on other attempts to raise penalties, such as 2003 legislation increasing the fines for illegal speed racing from $200 to $350 to $525 depending on the degree of the crime, according to Bryan Gorman, Director of Public Affairs.

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