A legislative column from Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,I,C-East Northport)
In October of 1999, Udo Krauss was killed when an unlicensed driver crossed the double yellow line and struck his vehicle head-on. The unlicensed driver had his driving privileges revoked for only 180 days. The victim’s family, however, was left with a great loss and no sense of justice.
Since that ill-fated day, the Krauss family forges ahead, fighting for stricter laws against unlicensed drivers. As their Assemblyman, I drafted legislation to change the current law to add unlicensed drivers to the list of those who can be charged with vehicular manslaughter in the second degree.
Currently, the punishment for unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle resulting in the injury or death of another is merely a monetary fine of $500 or less, a term of imprisonment for no more than 30 days and/or revocation of driving privileges for 180 days.
The bill, A.4376, which I am a sponsor of, would qualify this offense as vehicular manslaughter in the second degree. There is also a companion bill in the Senate sponsored by Senator Johnson. The punishment would be a sentence of one to seven years in prison. This would be a justifiable sentence for an unlicensed driver who caused an accident resulting in the injury or death of an innocent bystander, such as Udo Krauss.
I hope this bill will move forward in the Codes Committee and be brought to the floor, in both the House and the Senate for a vote before the Legislative Session ends in June. This measure is fair and just and I believe that my colleagues will do the right thing and vote in the affirmative. New York families like the Krausses deserve justice and peace of mind. I’m confident that amending the current law will do just that.