Felony Reckless Driving and Vulnerable Users of the Public Highway (Creto/Kade Law)
On Saturday, 10/31/15, a drunken Thomas Gorman ran down three young Skidmore students in Saratoga. He killed one outright and sent the other two to intensive care with serious injuries. According to the Times Union (11/2/15), this driver “faces DWI” charges. Gorman was later charged with first-degree vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated.
DWI can be a felony or misdemeanor depending on the skill of the defense attorney and the facts of the case.
ADDRESSING THE ISSUE – A recent proposal, named in memory of two motorcyclists killed by people in cars who committed moving violations would make it a felony offense to kill any “vulnerable road user” – pedestrians, persons riding animals, or persons operating any of the following: bicycle, implement of husbandry, motorcycle, horse drawn carriage, electric personal assistive mobility device, or wheelchair.
The Albany Bicycle Coalition voted unanimously by those present at its 10/29/15 meeting to support this proposed law.
Details of the proposal follow.
SUMMARY: Felony Reckless Driving And Vulnerable Public Highway Users (Creto/Kade Law) – Felony reckless driving is driving or using any motor vehicle, motorcycle, or any other vehicle propelled by any means other than muscular power or any appliance or accessory thereof in a manner which causes death to a vulnerable user of the public highway (or knowing or having reason to know the operator is violating this section). Vulnerable users include the following: pedestrians (including those working, in or along a highway or providing emergency services within a right-of-way), persons riding animals or operating a bicycle, implement of husbandry, motorcycle, horse drawn carriage, electric personal assistive mobility device, or wheelchair.
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FELONY RECKLESS DRIVING SHALL MEAN DRIVING OR USING ANY MOTOR VEHICLE, MOTORCYCLE, OR ANY OTHER VEHICLE PROPELLED BY ANY MEANS OTHER THAN MUSCULAR POWER OR ANY APPLIANCE OR ACCESSORY THEREOF:
IN A MANNER WHICH CAUSES DEATH TO A VULNERABLE USER OF THE PUBLIC HIGHWAY, OR KNOWING OR HAVING REASON TO KNOW THE OPERATOR IS VIOLATING SECTION: 1110(a): Failure to obey a traffic control device, 1111-3(d)2: Failure to stop for red light making a right turn, 1111-3(d)5: School bus illegally making a right on red light, 1120(a): Failure to keep right, 1120(a)3: Failure to yield right of way to oncoming traffic, while avoiding a traffic obstruction, 1120-6(c): Failure to keep right, crossing the center line of a roadway, 1121- Failure to yield one half of the road way to opposing traffic, 1122 (a): Improper overtaking of a vehicle on the left, 1122- (b): Improperly increasing speed when being legally passed on the right, 1124: Unlawfully crossing the center line of roadway while overtaking another vehicle, 1125-1: Illegally driving left of center of roadway; approaching crest of grade or curve with an obstructed view, 1125-2: Illegally driving left of the center of the roadway within 100 feet of traversing a railroad grade crossing, 1125-3: Illegally driving left of the center of the roadway when view is obstructed approaching a bridge, viaduct, or tunnel, 1126-(a): Illegally passing in a marked no passing zone, 1127-(a): Driving wrong way on a one way road way, 1127- (b): Failure to keep right passing around a circular intersection, 1128- (a): Moving from lane unsafely, 1128- (b): Illegal use of center lane- roadway divided into three lanes with two way movement, 1128- (d): Illegally crossing prohibitive roadway markings, 1129- (a): Following to closely, 1130-1: Illegally travelling upon the dividing area of a divided or controlled access highway, 1130- 2: Illegally entering a controlled access highway, 1131: Illegally operating a motor vehicle on a shoulder or slope, 1140- (a): Failure to yield right-of-way entering an intersection, 1140- (b): Failure to yield right-of-way, to a vehicle to the right, when arriving at an intersection at the same time, 1141: Failure to yield right-of-way making a left-hand turn (to a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction), 1142- (a): Failure to yield right-of-way at a stop sign, to a vehicle already on the roadway, 1142- (b): Failure to yield right-of-way at a yield sign, to a vehicle already on the roadway, 1143: Failure to yield right-of-way entering a roadway, 1145: Failure to yield right-of-way to a vehicle in a rotary traffic circle, 1160- (a): Improper right turn, 1160- (b): Improper left turn-two way traffic, 1160- (c): Improper left turn other than two way traffic, 1161: Illegal U-turn (any curve, approach to or near the crest of a grade-must be visible from 500 feet away), 1162: Moving from stopped, standing or park position unsafely, 1163- (a): Unsafe turn, 1163- (b): Failure to use proper signal when turning, 1163- (c): Stopping unsafely, 1163- (e): Illegal use of hazard lights, 1172- (a): Failure to stop at a stop sign, 1172- (b): Failure to stop at a yield sign, when required, 1173: Failure to stop emerging from an alley, driveway, private road or building, 1180- (a): Unsafe speed for prevailing conditions, 1180- (b): Speed in excess of posted 55 mile an hour speed limit, 1180- (c): Speed in school zone, 1180- (d): Speed in excess of the posted speed limit (any posted speed limit other than 55 mph), 1180- (e): Failure to reduce speed-special road hazards, 1180- (f): Failure to reduce speed construction or maintenance work area, 1181- (a): Impeding traffic, 1211- (a): Unsafe backing, 1212: Reckless Driving, 1214: Unsafely opening and closing vehicle doors, 1216: Illegally coasting a vehicle, 1220: Illegally dumping garbage on a roadway, 1225: Illegally avoiding intersections or traffic control device, 1225-c-2(a): Illegally talking on cell phone, 1225-d: Illegally using a portable electronic device (viewing or transmitting images, playing games, or composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages, or other electronic data), THE OPERATOR CONTINUES TO DO SO. A PERSON VIOLATING ANY OF THE PROVISIONS OF THIS CHAPTER SHALL BE GUILTY OF A CLASS D FELONY PUNISHABLE PURSUANT TO ARTICLES SIXTY-FIVE AND SEVENTY OF THE PENAL LAW.
Vulnerable user shall be defined as:
(a) A pedestrian including a person engaged in work, in or along a highway or engaged in the provision of emergency services within a right-of-way
(b) A person riding an animal
(c) A person lawfully operating any of the following on a highway or the shoulder of a highway: bicycle, implement of husbandry, motorcycle, horse drawn carriage, electric personal assistive mobility device, or wheelchair.
Written by: Kenneth A. Watson, Sr.
Amended 01-27-2015 by Kenneth A. Watson, Sr.
(Reformatted and edited – Lorenz M. Worden, 10-29-15)