Suffolk DA Spota: Penalize hit-and-run drivers

District Attorney Thomas Spota says the state Legislature needs to toughen penalties against drivers who leave the scene of an accident. (1/16/13)

RIVERHEAD - Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota is calling for tougher penalties for drivers who cause crashes and then flee the scene.

The New York State Legislature is the only governing body allowed to modify such accident penalties, and Spota says lawmakers need to act now. He says the current penalty, a maximum of four years in prison, does not fit the crime. He says the maximum penalty should jump to seven, or even 15 years behind bars.

Within the past month, hit-and-run crashes have resulted in two deaths and multiple injuries in Suffolk County alone, Spota says. He says hit-and-run drivers are purely selfish.

"They could call police right away, maybe emergency people and technicians could respond, maybe a life could be saved," Spota says. "But because of their own self-interest, they take off."

Spota says that was the case with Joseph Plummer, who was formally charged today with fatally striking a pedestrian in Riverhead after drinking vodka for hours. Days passed before Plummer was tracked down and arrested, so he faces just one to four years in prison if convicted, as opposed to the 15 years he would have faced if police had found him drunk at the accident scene, according to Spota.

 

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