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Up Fines for Hit-and-runs

City Legislation Beefs Up Civil Penalties

A Queens lawmaker introduced legislation that would impose fines of up to $5,000 for any driver that leaves the scene of an accident that results in a death.

Co-sponsored by City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Intro. 371-introduced following a City Council hearing last Wednesday, Sept. 3, on hitand run accidents-would establish civil penalties for a driver leaving an accident at the city level for the first time. The legislation would impose fines based on how badly a victim was injured from a minimum of $250 up to 5,000 based on severity or death.

Three people have been killed in hit-and-run incidents in Van Bramers’ district over the last two years.

The fines would increase to between $500 and $1,000 for an incident that results in a physical injury and $1,000 to $5,000 for a serious injury, Van Bramer said. For incidents that result in death, a minimum fine of 2,000 would be levied.

Families that have lost loved ones in a hit-and-run incident testified at the hearing last week, and lawmakers and transportation advocates reacted by addressing the need for penalties and supporting the legislation

“When someone involved in a hit-and-run collision leaves the scene without reporting the incident, they are not only breaking the law and evading potential prosecution for wrongdoing, they are also shirking their moral responsibility by blatantly disregarding the wellbeing of others,” Van Bramer said. “When an injury occurs as a result of a collision, the failure to report the accident delays the response of emergency personal and could be the difference between life and death. With my bill I hope to put an end to this serious crime in an effort to save lives and make our streets safer for all.”

Van Bramer said he believes the penalties will help support the city’s Vision Zero Initiative.

“As we move toward the goal of achieving Vision Zero, we must urgently address those who flee the scene of an accident,” Van Bramer added.

Kumar Ragunath, 64, Luis Bravo, 19, and Karen Pheras, 20, were each killed in separate hitand run incidents in the district.

“Striking someone with a car, causing them serious injury or death, and then fleeing the scene, is one of the most heinous crimes, Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives said. “Not only does the driver ignore their own responsibility to another person’s life, but they also leave victims exposed and without treatment in the street, and they deny families closure and justice.”

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