‘Kane’s Law’ passes in state Senate Bill Legislation would raise penalties for drunk drivers who cause roadway deaths

Published Mar 7, 2018 at 4:00pm

Legislation sponsored by state Sen. David J. Valesky that would increase the penalties for drunk drivers who commit vehicular crimes that result in death has passed the Senate. Also known as Kane’s Law, the bill would also enact stronger penalties against those who drive while their license is suspended or revoked.

The bill is named for Kane Buss, of Oneida, who was on his way home from a date with his girlfriend when his car was struck by a drunk driver. Buss, who was 19, died from his injuries and his girlfriend was critically injured. The driver who killed him had prior drunk driving offenses.

“I hope this legislation will encourage drivers to think about their actions before getting behind the wheel when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Those who drive under the influence are choosing to engage in dangerous behavior that puts other drivers at risk for serious injury and death,” said Valesky, D-53, Oneida.

Assembly sponsor Anthony Brindisi, D-119, Utica, said: “All too often, as in the tragic accident that took Kane Buss’s life, drunk driving accidents involve defendants with prior impaired driving convictions and suspended or revoked licenses.”

“I am sponsoring this bill in the Assembly because it is my hope through increased penalties that more drivers will think about the possible consequences before they get behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Brindisi said. “There are still too many drivers who risk the lives of others getting behind the wheel while impaired, and this bill enacts strong penalties for vehicular manslaughter and driving with a revoked or suspended license.”

The bill would increase the penalties for vehicular manslaughter in the second degree to a class C felony from class D, vehicular manslaughter in the first degree to a class B felony from class C, aggravated vehicular homicide to a class A-2 felony from class B and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree to a class D felony from class E.