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Paterson Signs Legislation Stemming From Fatal Chinatown Accident

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Last month, politicians and pedestrian safety activists rallied at City Hall.

Local elected officials are praising Governor Paterson for signing “Hayley and Diego’s Law,” legislation that will increase penalties against careless drivers. Earlier this summer, we attended a news conference at City Hall intended to step up pressure on the governor to act. On Friday, he did just that.

The impetus for the legislation was the horrible accident in Chinatown in January of 2009, in which an unoccupied van left in reverse, jumped the curb and killed 4-year-old Hayley Ng and 3-year-old Diego Martinez.  The driver was not charged with any crime. The bill was sponsored by State Senator Daniel Squadron and State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh.

The old state law made it very difficult for prosecutors to file criminal charges against careless drivers unless “intent” was established. The new law increases penalties for careless drivers – a $750 fine, 15 days in jail or a driver training course for a first offense. A second offense  triggers a misdemeanor charge and could lead to the possible suspension/revocation of a driver’s license.

May Ng, Hayley’s mother, said, “While nothing will ever undo the crash that took Hayley away from us, this new law will prevent tragedies like ours from happening to other families by holding drivers accountable for careless behavior.”

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