CUTCHOGUE, Long Island, N.Y. — The Governor of the State of New York once again has spoken out to promote limousine safety in New York State. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced recently that he wants to enact a prohibition against limos making U-turns on any road across the state. Long Island News 12 reported that Governor Cuomo attached the proposed law to this year’s budget proposal. Governor Cuomo’s latest announcement comes on the heels of introducing stricter state regulations on stretch limousines like the vehicle involved in the deadly Schoharie County crash that killed twenty last fall.
Cutchogue residents understand how fatal limo accidents can be. In 2015, four women died, and four others sustained severe injuries in a limo accident in Cutchogue. In that incident, the eight women were exploring different vineyards and wine tasting on Long Island when their limousine driver decided to make a U-turn at the intersection of Depot Lane and County Road 48. While executing the U-turn, a driver police charged with driving under the influence barreled into the limousine. The impact nearly severed the limo in two.
The Suffolk District Attorney’s office pursued criminal charges against the limo driver. A judge dismissed the charges because there was no evidence the limousine driver did anything that violated New York criminal law. According to Long Island News 12, the judge ruled that the driver made a U-turn in a location in which U-turns are lawful, was not speeding, texting, intoxicated, reading, or otherwise looking at a cellphone when he made the turn. Consequently, the judge ordered the indictments pending against the limo driver to be dismissed.
As a consequence of the resulting investigation into the horrific crash, the Suffolk District Attorney recommended that U-turns in limousines should be prohibited. Additionally, the DA’s report suggested amending New York criminal law to make professional drivers subject to criminal negligence when the professional driver causes a fatal accident. The DA also recommended stricter licensing requirements for limo drivers.
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