Gianaris bill to crack down on unlicensed drivers passes Senate

Gianaris bill to crack down on unlicensed drivers passes Senate
Photo by Bill Parry
By Bill Parry

The state Senate passed legislation that would crack down on drivers who kill or seriously injure others while driving with a revoked, suspended or otherwise invalid licenses. The bill, introduced by state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), would make such an event a felony and is included in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero agenda.

Gianaris, a longtime advocate for safer streets, first introduced the bill after a truck driver without a valid license struck and killed 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, who was trying to cross Northern Boulevard on his way to third grade classes at PS 152 in Woodside in December 2013. Gianaris renewed his call for these measures after 68-year-old Elmhurst resident Angela Hurtado was struck and killed by an SUV as she crossed Grand Avenue trying to get to Maspeth Bingo Hall in January 2014.

“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.”

State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) carries the bill in the State Assembly.

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

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.