2015-12-23 / Features

Van Bramer’s Hit-Run Bill Passed By City Council


City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Speaker Melissa Mark- Viverito and Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez were joined by Martha Puruncajas, mother of Luis Bravo, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver, to applaud the passage of two bills, introduced by Van Bramer, that will impose penalties of up to $20,000 to repeat hit-and-run offenders, as well as require the NYPD to expand its existing hit-and-run reporting to the Council and public. City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Speaker Melissa Mark- Viverito and Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez were joined by Martha Puruncajas, mother of Luis Bravo, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver, to applaud the passage of two bills, introduced by Van Bramer, that will impose penalties of up to $20,000 to repeat hit-and-run offenders, as well as require the NYPD to expand its existing hit-and-run reporting to the Council and public. On December 16, City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez were joined by Martha Puruncajas, mother of Luis Bravo, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver, to applaud the passage of Intros 603-A and 604-A. These bills, introduced by Councilman Van Bramer, will for the first time in the City of New York impose penalties of up to $20,000 to repeat offenders who are found guilty of hit-and-run crashes, as well as require the New York City Police Department to expand its existing hit-and-run reporting to the Council and public by including data on civil penalties which are levied in hit-and-run crashes.

Martha Puruncajas, Mr. Bravo’s mother, has been an outspoken safe streets organizer since her son’s death, joining many families who have lost loved ones to advocate for tougher laws against hit-and-run drivers.

With nearly 40,000 hit-and-run crashes in the city this year alone, 4,000 of which involved a person being hit, the City Council took action by voting in favor of strengthening Van Bramer’s “Justice for Hit-and-Run Victims Act,” which became law in 2014.

“These bills are a strong deterrent against repeat reckless drivers who continue to wreak havoc on our city’s streets,” said Van Bramer. “Hit-and-run crashes are an epidemic throughout New York City. While the penalties set forth in Intros 603- A and 604-A will not bring back the lives that have been taken by reckless drivers, they will send a message to criminals who think they can get away with leaving a fellow New Yorker on the side of the road to die: If you break the law, we will find you and punish you. I want to thank Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez for working with me to strengthen the Justice for Hit-and-Run Victim Act and taking swift action to ensure our city does everything in its power to protect all New Yorkers. I want to thank Martha Puruncajas for her courage. After losing her son, Luis Bravo, to a hit-and-run crash in Woodside, she has helped lead a campaign to get justice for her family, as well as so many more New Yorkers who are suffering. Martha is an inspiration to me and so many other safe streets advocates who are fighting the make Vision Zero a reality.”

“Hit-and-run crashes are an epidemic in New York City and today we take action to eradicate them,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez. “The shocking volume of these crashes that persist on our streets each year are a danger to all New Yorkers. With legislation moved today we send a clear message that if you flee the scene of a crash, you will not get away freely. We also will require greater accountability of those who investigate these crashes, with more reporting requirements including the results of investigations into these heinous crimes. I am proud to partner with Majority Leader Van Bramer in this effort and we will continue to take a keen focus to ending hit-and-run crashes for good.”

“The City Council has taken an important step by approving Majority Leader Van Bramer’s hit-and-run legislation, and we urge Mayor de Blasio to sign the bills without delay,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “This legislation will lead to a predictable application of existing penalties, along with comprehensive data about the scale of New York City’s hit-and-run problem. As a next step we need state lawmakers to take away the perverse incentive for drivers to flee the scene of a crash by aligning the penalty for hit-and-run with the penalty for DWI.”

Under Intro 603-A, repeat hit-and-run offenders who leave the scene of a crash without taking action required by law would be subject to pay a civil penalty of up to $2,000 if property damage results from the incident; $2,000 to $5,000 if a person is injured; $10,000 to $15,000 if there is serious injury; and $15,000 to $20,000 if death results.

Intro 604-A will expand the requirements of the NYPD to provide quarterly reports on serious hit-and-runs investigated by the Collision Investigation Squad. These reports will now include information on how often NYPD issues a notice of violation for civil penalties. The public will also receive annual reports on the number of property damage hit-and-run complaints, the number of hit-and-run crashes resulting in injury, and how many of those cases resulted in arrest.

Van Bramer dedicated the passage of the bills to the families and victims of hit-and-run crashes across the city including Luis Bravo, 19, Kumar Ragunath, 64, and Karen Pheras, 20, who all lost their lives because of the unconscionable actions of reckless drivers who showed no concern for lives of these three New Yorkers.

The strengthening of the “Justice for Hit-and- Run Victims Act” enhances our city’s Vision Zero initiative by deterring repeat hit-and-run offenders from leaving the scene of a hit-and-run collision by imposing greater penalties and ultimately increasing enforcement to punish our City’s most dangerous drivers.

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