By Bob Katzen
The House gave initial approval to legislation that would change a current law that imposes a fine of between $500 and $1,000 on any all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or other recreational vehicle driver who leaves the scene, without giving information to the driver of the other vehicle, of a hit and run accident that does not result in death.
The bill would impose the same fine but would also add the possibility of a one-year prison sentence. The bill also creates a new crime of leaving the scene of an accident that results in a death and imposes up to a $5,000 fine and/or 2.5 years in prison for that new crime.
The bill, dubbed the James Ward Act, was filed in response to the tragic death of a young man in the district of sponsor Rep. Kathy LaNatra (R-Kingston). According to LaNatra’s office, James Ward was riding ATVs with his father and his brother. He collided with another driver, who told James’ father that he would go and get help but he never returned to the scene and went back to the party which he was attending. Sadly, the young man later succumbed to his injuries.
“I filed this legislation to prevent ATV riders from fleeing the scene of an accident and ensure that they are held accountable for their actions,” said sponsor Rep. Kathy LaNatra (R-Kingston). “I want to ensure that what the Ward family went through on that tragic day, doesn’t happen again.”