In some cities in the United States, bicycle riding constitutes a weekend leisure activity. In locations like New York City, on the other hand, bicycles are an important mode of transportation for many people. So many bikes on the streets, makes for a greater number of possible accidents. In fact, in 2015 alone, the NYC Department of Transportation reported that there were 4,433 bicycle accidents. Fortunately for bicycle riders in the state, this is a number that doesn’t seem to be flying under the radar of lawmakers.
Senate Bill S3299
A proposal recently unanimously passed through the New York State Senate that seeks to impose stricter regulation and punishment of unlicensed drivers. Spearheaded by Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), Senate Bill S3299 (S.3299) aims to establish harsher penalties for unlicensed motorists – those driving with revoked or suspended licenses – in the event that they seriously injure or kill someone. Most notably, the bill would raise the maximum penalty able to be imposed upon such motorists from a misdemeanor to a class E felony.
If S.3299 progresses into law, there would be a variety of changes to the way in which such bicycle accident cases are handled. Perhaps the most important would be the justice and closure awarded to the families of the victims of accidents caused by unlicensed motorists. In fact, it should be noted that the driving force behind the creation of the bill was the death of Kevin Flores, a 13-year-old who was struck and killed while riding his bicycle. The driver, Philip Monfoletto, had no less than nine open suspensions on his license at the time of the accident, as reported by the New York Post. Despite this, and the fact that his social media posts made it abundantly clear that the driver was fully aware of his license suspensions, he was charged only with misdemeanors.
Under the provisions included in S.3299, the consequences faced by Monfoletto might have looked very different. Instead of a handful of misdemeanors, he might be facing as many as seven years in prison for causing Flores’ death while driving unlawfully. While this could never undo the tragedy of his death, the heavier sentence weight might at least cause others to think twice before making the decision to drive with a suspended license. The increased consequences might even result in a decrease of bicycle-related accidents in general, preventing another family from mourning the loss of their child.
Current Bicycle Accident Law
While S.3299 is a promising step in the right direction, it does not impact motorists or victims at this time. That leaves the victims of unlicensed motorists and their loved ones with an uphill battle when it comes to obtaining justice. Their best bet is to reach out to a law firm that has the experience to turn existing bicycle accident law to their advantage. The Ashely Law Firm can do just that. Contact us today at 212-513-1300 for a free consultation!