A rash of pedestrians fatally struck by unlicensed drivers has prompted the Queens leadership to ban together to pass legislation that would make such an act a felony and result in two to four years of jail time.
An Elmhurst woman was the latest victim, run down by a white Mitsubishi box truck allegedly operated by an unlicensed driver, while she was walking in the intersection of Woodside Avenue and 76th Street, police said.
“Unfortunately, the law in New York has not caught up with the facts of these situations,” said state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who has written the bill. “Someone who kills someone when driving without a license... the most severe charge they can get is a violation, which is like getting a parking ticket.”
Outraged by the frequency of these types of incidents and the penalties offenders receive, several officials and advocates for safer streets rallied behind Gianaris’ legislative push at a news conference Tuesday in Woodside.
“It’s time that we say give us the keys to your car,” said state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), “If you smoke a cigarette, the chances of you getting lung cancer are increased. [It’s] the same way if you’re an unlicensed driver. You have a high risk of hitting somebody, [possibly] injuring or killing them.”
Drivers with revoked and or suspended licenses who have caused a loss of life would get more than a slap on the wrist under the proposed legislation.