Singas, Spota call for changes to hit-and-run bill

There is a renewed push for tougher sentences for drivers who leave the scene of serious and deadly accidents.

Prosecutors say current penalties encourage drivers to flee the scene of an accident and sober up, rather than stay and possibly face a more serious felony DWI charge.

A proposed law passed by the state Assembly and Senate would increase the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident.

However, prosecutors say provisions added to the legislation would make getting a conviction next to impossible.

"I think that the Assembly and the Senate were acting in good faith, but I don't think they really understood the hindrances," says Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota.

Spota says those hindrances would require that two or more people would have to be seriously injured or killed in a crash. There would also have to be solid proof of reckless driving, and the driver would have to have had a suspended license or a prior conviction for leaving the scene of an accident to increase the penalties.

"It's too narrow, and there would be very few cases that would fit into that exact, those exact requirements," says Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo can now approve, veto or recommend eliminating the provisions. He has until the end of the year to make a decision.


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