DA: Toughen penalties for unlicensed drivers in crashes
State lawmakers are being urged to approve legislation that will make stricter penalties for unlicensed drivers involved in crashes.
Acting Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas was joined at a news conference Thursday by the family of 12-year-old Zachary Ranftle, who was allegedly killed by a driver with a suspended license in Valley Stream.
Austin Soldano, of Seaford, is accused of hitting and killing Ranftle in December while the boy was walking to school. He faces a misdemeanor charge and faces no more than 180 days in jail if convicted. He pleaded not guilty Thursday to aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.
Singas says the charge for causing a serious or fatal accident with a suspended license should be increased to a felony with a penalty of up to seven years in prison.
"Innocent people should not have to live in fear of drivers who should not be on the road," said Singas.
Several local lawmakers joined the acting DA to voice their support for the legislation, including state Sen. Jack Martins and Assemblymen Todd Kaminsky and David McDonough.
Soldano, who is also facing a felony DWI charge for an unrelated incident, remains free on $50,000 bail.