Why Are So Few Criminal Charges Filed Against Drivers Who Violate Pedestrian Laws?

Howard Raphaelson
Partner, Attorney
People Walking In Crosswalk

In a recent blog post, we discussed the significant number of pedestrians and bicyclists who are injured in traffic accidents every year in New York City. We also questioned whether city and law enforcement officials are doing enough to prevent such accidents. According to at least one traffic safety nonprofit in the city, Transportation Alternatives, the answer appears to be no.

The group recently released a report in which it discussed the failures on the parts of the city's district attorneys in pursuing the prosecution of drivers who violate traffic laws. In particular, the group cited low prosecution rates with regard to some of the city's newer laws which are largely aimed to protect pedestrians.

In fact, despite pledges by city officials to eliminate traffic deaths under its Vision Zero campaign, DAs throughout the city have only brought criminal charges using four of these new laws "a total of 46 times." 38 of these criminal convictions were sought against drivers who violated the city's right-of-way law whereas only eight were filed in relation to drivers who failed to use due care.

Even more troubling is the fact that city DAs have only pursued charges against two percent of drivers in hit-and-run cases. This shockingly low figure is likely a direct reflection of the overall low investigation rate into hit-and-run traffic accidents which is reportedly at less than one percent. Despite these figures, city officials continue to profess their commitment to vision zero and to preventing traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths.

For those pedestrians who are injured in a traffic accident, it's important to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney. An attorney who handles personal injury matters can fight to recover compensation to help pay for medical bills, lost wages, and disabling injuries.

Howard Raphaelson
Partner, Attorney
Howard A. Raphaelson founded Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, P.C. in 1992 after graduating from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, NY. With over thirty years of experience as a personal injury lawyer, he has earned a trusted reputation from his peers, judges, and top leaders, including recognition among the top 5% injury attorneys as a “Super Lawyer” (Thomson Reuters) and “New York’s Best Lawyers” (New York Magazine).

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