NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Ten years ago, Long Island teenager Angelica Nappi died in a crash caused by a driver who had his license suspended seven times. Her mother says New York State still lets chronically suspended drivers off with a slap on the wrist.
Dawn Nappi has been pushing for Angelica’s Law to make it a felony to drive with repeated suspensions.
A roadside memorial in Medford grows every year. On the tenth anniversary of Angelica’s death, efforts to pass her namesake law are going nowhere.
“This is a no-brainer and the fact that it has taken ten years just blows my mind,” Nappi told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
14-year-old Angelica was killed by a driver who ran a red light after his numerous suspensions. The driver, Stephen Catalano, served four months in jail on a misdemeanor.
Angelica’s Law would make it a felony to drive after five suspensions rather than the current ten. The bill passes the state Senate every year, but stalls in the Assembly.
“You shouldn’t even be driving with one suspended license,” Nappi said.
Each year, Rochester Assemblyman and Chairman of the Transportation Committee David Gantt has blocked the measure from advancing. He wanted no part of CBS2 affiliate WROC-TV’s questions, nor will he explain himself to the public or Nappi.
“Maybe it has to happen to one of your own, one of your own loved ones for you to do something,” Nappi said to Gantt in the halls of the state capitol.
Assemblyman Dean Murray (R-3rd) is the bill’s sponsor, and says he’ll try again this year with bipartisan support.
“We live in a state with almost 20 million people and yet one man can say no to a common sense piece of legislation that can save lives, one man has the power to say no and the bill goes nowhere,” Murray told CBS2. “It’s gotta be fixed. This is ridiculous.”
Nappi says she isn’t giving up hope.
Similar bills have stalled in the assembly. Opponents have said it’s unfair to punish a driver for an innocent accident, but proponents wonder driving repeatedly with an open suspension constitutes an accident if it claims thousands of lives every year.
Repeated requests for comment from Assemblyman Gantt’s office went unanswered.