TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, which would toughen the penalties of unlicensed drivers who are involved in fatal accidents, was approved in the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee today.
“A fatal accident involving an unlicensed driver is no accident at all, but the result of criminal negligence,” said Senator Scutari, D-Middlesex , Somerset and Union. “The law needs to reflect that.”
“Christopher’s Law” , S-2144, was drafted in response to the tragic death of 12 year old Cranford resident, Christopher Williamson, who was killed at the hands of an unlicenced driver in June of 2004,” said Senator Scutari. “Because the driver had never applied for a license he could not be prosecuted under the existing statute, which only applies to drivers who have their licenses suspended or revoked. Christopher’s Law closed that loophole.”
Senator Scutari noted that, the driver could only be fined $200 for driving without a license and $230 in court fees.
The bill, would make a driver, who does not possess a license, and is involved in an accident that results in the death of another person, guilty of a third degree crime, punishable by a prison term of 3-5 years, a fine up to $15,000 or both.
“Christopher’s Law will give prosecutors the tools they need to effectively seek justice,” said Senator Scutari. “Hopefully unlicensed drivers will think twice before getting behind the wheel.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.