The Legal Precedent “Rule of Two”

pedestrian right a wayAccording to the New York Times, 290 pedestrians were killed due to traffic accidents. In part of Mayor De Blasio’s Vision Zero campaign to end traffic fatalities, a new law called “Intro 238,” or “Cooper’s Law”(named for the 9-year-old boy that was killed by a cab driver), is designed to make drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians and cyclists who have the right of way, “guilty of infraction.” One would think this particular law would already be in place, but many drivers who killed a pedestrian in a car accident would follow the legal precedent (an earlier event that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in similar circumstances) of the “rule of two.”

Before this law, the “rule of two” stipulated that there must be two misdemeanors for a charge of criminal negligence to be brought against a driver who kills. The precedent itself discouraged law enforcement from properly investigating, charging and prosecuting drivers who kill. The biggest issue with this precedent stems from the fact that killing someone without violating two other traffic laws would mean the driver would not be held liable for the death.

For example, if the driver is speeding, runs a red light and then hits someone, the driver will more than likely know that they were risking the chance of a crash. One the other hand, if a driver hits a pedestrian, even if the pedestrians or cyclists has the right of way, it is still not enough to be considered reckless and may not face criminal charges if that is the only thing that was done wrong.

Adding the law “Intro 238” should mean an end to the “rule of two.” While just a traffic infraction may not seem like enough, the law also authorizes the Taxi and Limousine Commission to revoke the licenses of drivers involved in serious crashes, pending an investigation. Mixed feelings occur from this change. Some feel that the new law will help the victims more, while others feel law enforcement should be held accountable for not using the laws already in place.

If you or a family member has been the victim of a car accident and need legal representation, contact the Law Offices of James J. Cupero for a free initial consultation today.