Bill prompted by deadly Slope crash becomes law

Sad scene: Slopers remember young victims on anniversary of deadly Ninth Street crash
Locals paid tribute to the two children killed in a crash in Park Slope in 2018.
Photo by Natallie Rocha

A new state law prompted by a deadly 2018 crash in Park Slope has become law after being signed by Gov. Cuomo, legislators announced Thursday. 

The rule will allow the state to suspend the licenses of drivers who have lost consciousness behind the wheel until they receive medical clearance from a doctor that they are fit to drive. 

“This legislation will ensure drivers who are medically unfit to drive will not be on our roads,” said Assemblyman Robert Carroll (D—Park Slope) who introduced the bill

The law comes after 44-year-old Staten Island driver Dorothy Bruns plunged through a red light at Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue, slaying two children and injuring three others, including Tony-award winning actress Ruthie Ann Miles, who was pregnant at the time, and later miscarried as a result of her injuries. 

Prosecutors alleged that Bruns suffered a seizure at the time of the crash, and that her doctor had warned her not to drive as a result of several medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis. 

Had Carroll’s law been in place back in 2018, Bruns may have had her license suspended before the fatal  Park Slope crash, due to a previous medical episode she suffered behind the wheel, which caused her to drive into a parked car six weeks before the Ninth street crash. 

“With traffic deaths on the rise again, we have to do everything we can to stop the heartbreak and horror of traffic violence,” said Senator Andrew Gounardes (D—Bay Ridge), who sponsored the bill in the senate. 

Specifically, the new rule will require the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner to revoke a person’s license if they receive a report from the police indicating that the driver suffered a medical episode behind the wheel. Receiving a report will only cause an inquiry to be opened, they will be allowed to drive until the DMV finds conclusive evidence and closes their inquiry. Drivers will have the chance to request a hearing but will be barred from driving until the ruling is overturned. 

The bill is a small victory for safe streets advocates that came on the same day as a crushing blowback when Gov. Cuomo vetoed the hotly anticipated e-bikes bill that would have legalized electric bikes and scooters in parts of New York City. The governor derided the bill as “fatally flawed” for leaving out safety measures he had included in the 2019 budget.