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Monday, February 2, 2015
TEARS FOR ALLISON LIAO BUT NO JUSTICE
Eric Schneiderman: Justice for Allison Liao
Hsi-Pei Liao Fresh Meadows, New York
The man who struck and killed our daughter while she crossed the street only got 2 traffic tickets and never went to jail. Our family was forced through a grueling judicial process that resulted in those tickets being dismissed. We need your help to convince states to change their policies around deaths involving vehicles, starting with New York.
A little over a year ago, we lost our 3-year-old daughter Allison Liao when she was struck and killed on a crosswalk while walking with her grandmother. My daughter and her grandmother had the right of way and never saw the SUV coming. In 2 seconds our daughter was gone, and it took 47 seconds for a traffic court to find the driver “not guilty”. Allison is worth more than this. Please sign our petition telling the New York DMV to immediately adopt the Families for Safe Streets guidelines - 5 actions they can take now to bring offenders to justice and protect victim’s families.
The loss of our daughter, who would bring a smile to the passengers on our usual bus route with her rendition of The Wheels on the Bus, is hard to put into words. What is even harder to explain, is the justice system and it’s response to her death.
Despite a video of the incident showing a failure to yield, an admission to having 2 glasses of wine, and our daughter being killed, the driver only received 2 tickets: failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to use due care. When the case came before a DMV judge we were not officially informed of the hearing and the court was not informed a death had been involved, both not mandatory under the law. Seconds after the hearing started, the judge found the driver not guilty simply because the cop present said he did not witness the crime.
The New York DMV has the power to immediately implement the Families and Safe Streets 5 guidelines to prevent this ordeal from happening again:
- A mandatory three-month license suspension for serious offenses while driving.
- Reform the DMV point system so that higher point values apply to violations where someone is seriously injured or killed; prevent drivers from using adjournments to push points outside the 18-month window and avoid suspension.
- Greater accountability for commercial drivers, enforced by a mandatory three-month or longer license suspension upon accrual of six or more penalty points.
- Mandatory, prompt and publicly-noticed safety hearings at which victims, their families, and NYPD crash investigators can attend, present evidence and make statements; quarterly reporting of aggregate safety hearing outcomes and other statistics.
- DMV’s adoption of the equivalent of the Federal Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights for victims’ families.
Allison’s death doesn’t have to be meaningless. While we would do anything to have her smiling face back, if her death gets people to pay attention to how traffic deaths are handled in their communities, starting with demanding the New York DMV adopting these reforms, we can prevent families from experiencing what we have. No family should have to plead and work tirelessly just to the justice system acknowledge a loved one’s life mattered. The New York DMV needs to hear your voice to help them make the right decision. Please sign and share our petition today.