Im always looking for ways to improve traffic safety to minimize car crashes that can lead to serious injury and even death. This year, I helped pass vital legislation that will crack down on dangerous driving practices to help prevent tragedies.
Leandras Law, which honors Leandra Rosado, who was killed while she was a passenger in a vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver, was passed in 2009. The law made it an automatic felony to drive drunk with a child 15 years old or younger in the car. It also required that ignition interlock devices breathalyzers that must be passed in order for a car to start be installed in vehicles owned or operated by convicted drunk drivers. However, recent statistics reveal that up to 70 percent of those convicted of a DWI crime failed to install the ignition interlock device, in some cases giving ownership of their cars to a friend or relative to avoid doing so.1
To increase compliance with interlock installation, I helped pass a law that increases from six months to one year the time period that the interlock must be installed following a drunk-driving conviction (Ch. 169 of 2013). The law also requires offenders who claim they do not own a car and will not operate any vehicle during the one-year period to do so under oath in court. These are necessary steps to strengthen the historic Leandras Law and help prevent drunk-driving tragedies. This law took effect July 26.
I also took steps to combat distracted-driving crashes by increasing penalties for operating hand-held devices while driving particularly talking on a hand-held mobile phone and texting while driving. A provision included in the 2013-14 state budget that takes effect Oct. 28 increases the fines for these violations to at least $50 and up to $150 for a first offense, and the maximum fine jumps to $400 when an individual violates the law three or more times within 18 months.
Another new law, which took effect July 1, requires the suspension of probationary and junior drivers licenses for operating hand-held devices while driving (Ch. 91 of 2013). These new laws arrive in conjunction with an increase in license points for drivers who violate hand-held device laws.
As your representative in the state Assembly, Ill keep fighting for tougher traffic laws to encourage better decision-making behind the wheel to help save lives. As always, feel free to contact me regarding this or any other important community issue at 516-599-2972 or at email@example.com.