At the beginning of 2012, the New York Senate voted on a bill nicknamed "Abbagail's Law," which would make it a criminal offense to act as a supervising driver while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Abbagail's Law passed the Senate almost unanimously, at 45-1. Now it is the New York Assembly's turn to take up the proposed legislation.
Companion legislation to the Senate's version of Abbagail's Law was introduced in the New York Assembly in April 2011, then again in January 2012 around the time the Senate passed it. Assembly Bill 6988 was most recently referred to the Transportation Committee after its January introduction.
The bill's namesake, an eight-year-old New York girl from Orleans County named Abbagail Buzard, was killed in an auto accident in September 2009. Abbagail's father had been drinking at a family party that night and designated a 17-year-old cousin with a learner's permit to drive him and Abbagail to the store so the father could buy alcohol, according to wivb.com. In New York, drivers with learner's permits are required to have a supervising driver in the car with them.
The inexperienced driver was speeding and crashed the car. Abbagail's father was implicated in the crash because he took it upon himself to act as the teenager's supervising driver even though he had been drinking. Abbagail's Law is intended to prevent future tragedies by criminalizing such behavior.
Supervising Driver Legislation
Abbagail's Law would prohibit supervising drivers from acting under the influence of alcohol or drugs and subject those who violate it to a Class A misdemeanor. A Class E felony would be imposed for aggravated supervising a driver under the influence. The proposed Assembly bill's language suggests that the felony offense would apply to supervising drivers under 21 years old who are under the influence.
In many cases, compensation is available for victims of fatal car accidents, and family members should always contact a personal injury attorney to learn about potential wrongful death claims and how their case should be handled to maximize their recovery.