TRENTON -Legislation sponsored by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari toughening the penalties for unlicensed drivers involved in fatal accidents was approved by the full Senate today.
“We are one step closer to be able to sufficiently prosecute unlicensed drivers who take the lives of others,” said Senator Scutari, D-Middlesex, Somerset and Union. “The Get Out of Jail Free card is being torn up.”
The legislation, known as “Christopher’s Law,” had its genesis in the tragic death of 12 year-old Cranford resident Christopher Williamson, who was struck and killed by an unlicensed driver while riding his bicycle. “Because he never applied for a license, the driver walked away after paying $200 in fines and court fees,” explained the Senator. “The stricter penalties on the books only applied to drivers who have had their licenses suspended or revoked. ‘Christopher’s Law’ will close this deadly loophole, sending a message that driving without a license is a serious crime that can have serious repercussions.”
The bill, S-2144, would make drivers who do not possess a license and are involved in a fatal accident, guilty of a third degree crime, which is punishable by a prison term of 3-5 years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
According to Senator Scutari, the bill would also make unlicensed drivers who are involved in an accident that results in serious bodily injury guilty of a fourth degree crime, which carries a prison term of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
“Unlicensed drivers should think twice before getting behind the wheel,” said the Senator. “Hopefully, this bill will give them even more incentive to stay off the road.”
The bill now awaits consideration by the full Assembly before going to the Governor’s office for enactment.