Turning Up the Heat on Reckless Drivers

Pols Push Penalties In Maspeth

Calls for tougher penalties against drivers with suspended licenses who are involved in fatal accidents were repeated by lawmakers during a press conference on Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Maspeth intersection where a woman was struck and killed by an illegally-turning car eight days earlier.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (at podium) held a press conference in Maspeth on Sunday, Jan. 26, calling for legislation to toughen penalties against drivers with suspended licenses who are involved in vehicular accidents. Assemblywoman Margaret Markey and City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley are shown among the participants.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey and City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley gathered at the corner of 69th Place and Grand Avenue to trumpet support for a state bill that would institute felony charges against reckless drivers who have suspended licenses and are involved in accidents that cause serious or fatal injuries to pedestrians or other motorists.

The Maspeth location was the site where 68-year-old Angela Hurtado of Elmhurst was killed by an illegally turning vehicle operated by 28-yearold Abel Tinoco of Richmond Hill. Upon investigation, Tinoco was charged for driving with a suspended license.

Gianaris, the bill’s co-sponsor, announced the legislation earlier this month in Woodside in the wake a deadly accident last December in which an eight-year-old boy, Noshat Nahian, was fatally hit by a tractortrailer. In that incident, the driver was also charged for having a suspended license.

“Noshat Nahian and Angela Hurtado are only the latest of many victims whose lives have been cut short by drivers who should not have been on the road in the first place,” Gianaris said. “These are preventable tragedies. We need to enact these important proposals before any more lives are lost.”

“We need to crack down on drivers who have demonstrated reckless behavior behind the wheel,” added Markey, who introduced companion legislation in the Assembly. “They have already lost their privilege to drive on our roads and these bills will make it clear they will be punished when they continue to violate the law.”

“Passing common sense legislation like Senator Gianaris’ bill to crack down on unlicensed drivers who endanger others is the first step in protecting all those who share our roads,” Crowley said. “Dangerous drivers who never should have been behind the wheel should not walk away with just a slap on the wrist.”

Along with the bill increasing penalties against unlicensed drivers, Gianaris and Markey are sponsoring a second bill to grant law enforcement agencies the authority to impound the license plate of any vehicle found to be operated by an unlicensed motorist.

Representatives of the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) civic association, Transportation Alternatives and the group Make Queens Safer were also at the conference to voice support for the legislation.

“The threat of stiff charges and heavy penalties will help make drivers aware of the tremendous responsibility they have behind the wheel,” said Cristina Furlong of Make Queens Safer.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, a cosponsor of the bills, also voiced his support of the legislation in a statement.

“Approving these important bills won’t bring Angela Hurtado back to her loving family, but it may spare others from this kind of unspeakable grief and loss,” Addabbo said. “We need to get these irresponsible and highly dangerous drivers out from behind the wheel-and, when warranted, behind prison bars.”

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