Drivers in New York have the responsibility to drive safely in order to avoid accidents — especially when it comes to watching out for pedestrians. Drivers also have a responsibility to maintain a valid driver’s license. In order to encourage drivers to refrain from driving on a suspended license, two lawmakers in Queens have decided to introduce legislation that will stiffen the punishments when someone is involved in an accident that results in an injury or death while driving on a suspended license. More often than not, the unlicensed driver is also a negligent driver.

The two safety-minded lawmakers are backing legislation that could mean jail time for those who negligently cause a car accident while driving on a suspended license. The new legislation relates to two new state bills, which will increase the offense to a Class E felony, which could carry a sentence of up to four years in prison for an unlicensed driver who kills or injures another. This is all coming to a head after a rash of accidents have killed pedestrians since the new year.

Most recently, a 67-year-old woman and a small boy were struck and killed by unlicensed drivers in two separate incidents. The victims were simply going about their everyday lives when they were so tragically struck down. The elderly woman was on her way to play bingo, and the third grader was on his way to school.

If the proposed legislation becomes law, then drivers with suspended licenses who cause accidents involving injuries could end up being locked away in jail for multiple years. This level of criminal responsibility may help to keep the streets free of such drivers. It may also provide a sense of justice for those who are injured and for the families of fatal accident victims.

Apart from any criminal proceedings, accident victims (or the families of those victims who lost their lives) have the right to pursue claims for monetary relief against a presumably negligent driver. Surviving families must still find a way to pay for funeral and other end of life expenses associated with a loved one’s death. Victims that survive a pedestrian accident likely have medical bills to pay and expenses for rehab and lost income from work. Paying for these financial losses could be achieved by successfully litigating wrongful death or personal injury claims in a Queens civil courtroom.

Source: Times Ledger, Bills target unlicensed in crashes with victims, Christina Santuccicity, Jan. 31, 2014