Vaccaro Law represents Faye and Daniel Zuzworsky, whose son Daniel was killed in the crosswalk with the right of way in January 2023. Although the driver pleaded guilty to violating the Right of Way Law and to failing to use due care, Steve Vaccaro explained that the minimal penalties applied by the sentencing judge undercut the purposes of the law.
“The case marks one of a handful of convictions since the state’s highest court in 2021 upheld that it is a crime for a driver to maim or kill a pedestrian or cyclists if the motorist is negligent, under the city’s nearly decade-old “Right-of-Way” law.
“The Right-of-Way law [is] an available accountability measure for drivers who injure and kill, but it’s almost impossible not to also feel that the meager penalties that the bill provides are inadequate to the task of deterring dangerous driving,” said Steve Vaccaro, the family’s attorney and a long-time advocate for street safety.
Judges should at the very least suspend guilty drivers’ licenses and impose higher fines, the lawyer said.
“This is criminal conduct when a sober, licensed, stay-at-the-scene driver kills [so] now we have to say it’s more than an unclassified misdemeanor that [could be eligible for] this kind of summary treatment,” Vaccaro said.
In March, a Postal Service truck driver who killed cyclist Jeffrey Williamson on the Upper West Side also got slapped with a $1,000 fine and a driver accountability program, but dodged a 15-day stint in jail.
The crime is an unclassified misdemeanor, on par with a public urination, according to Vaccaro, so jurists still treat it as a low-level offense — even if a driver kills someone.
“It’s more of a conveyor belt treatment because there’s such a volume of unclassified misdemeanors,” Vaccaro said.”
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