Driving the Wrong Way Is a Felony under New NY Senate Bill

Author: Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP

The New York Senate passed a bill (S. 3452) on January 24, 2012 that addresses driving the wrong way and reckless driving, making these violations a felony. It awaits final approval from the Assembly.

The legislation proposes a new driving offense called aggravated reckless driving. As worded in the bill, violations that comprise aggravated reckless driving include:

 Drivers who drive the wrong way, against the flow of traffic, either knowingly or because they are intoxicated
 Drivers who drive more than 30 miles an hour over the speed limit while intoxicated or impaired
 Drivers who drive more than 30 miles an hour over the speed limit while racing, pursuing other vehicles, or excessively weaving in and out of traffic

The bill makes aggravated reckless driving a class E felony, punishable by a prison sentence of up to four years.
The bill also reclassifies reckless driving as a more serious offense, changing it from an unclassified misdemeanor (maximum 30 days in jail) to a Class A misdemeanor (maximum prison sentence of one year).

For more details about S. 3452 see the New York State Senate website.

Relevance for car accident claims

The aggravated reckless driving category may offer an advantage for accident victims seeking compensation. The legal change acknowledges how serious reckless driving is and that it indicates a greater degree of negligence. In extreme cases, aggravated reckless driving may lead to case rulings that allow plaintiffs to obtain punitive damages.