The New York State Senate has passed “Abbagail’s Law,” making it illegal for adults to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while acting as a driving supervisor. The Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 45-1. The law is named after an 8-year-old girl that was killed in 2009 when her 17-year-old cousin was asked by her father to drive him to the liquor store. During the drive, her father was under the influence and allowed the young driver to drive unsafely on windy roads. The SUV flipped, killing Abbagail Buzard. As no law against supervising driving while under the influence previously existed, the father Corey Buzard was not charged with a crime.
In order to codify what the law makes illegal, the crime of supervising while intoxicated is now a Class A misdemeanor and aggravated supervising a driver while under the influence of alcohol or drugs has become a Class E felony. According to WENY-TV News, if a driver blows higher than a .18 on a breathalyzer, it is considered a felony, and lower will be considered a misdemeanor.
Senator George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane), one of the law’s sponsors, said “It’s simple to understand: if you are supervising a younger driver, you must be sober. Otherwise, the consequences can be tragic, like in the case of young Abbagail Buzard. When that happens, we have to have a way to bring the guilty to justice.” Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau) commented that “We need to let those who might engage in unsafe and illegal activities that there will be severe consequences for their actions.”
This legislation closes a significant loophole in the law, and helps keep passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians safer in the future. Sadly, accidents where one or more driver is under the influence are not uncommon. If you or a loved one is involved in an accident caused by the negligence, carelessness, or recklessness of someone driving under the influence, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact a dedicated New York DUI accident attorney to see if you might be eligible to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.