Recent hit-and-runs renew call to pass Alix's Law

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The summer season means more time behind the wheel as we travel from get-togethers, the beach or head to a relaxing get away.

After four recent hit-and-runs in the City of Buffalo, three of which were fatal, there's a renewed call to pass Alix's Law.

"When we look back, six years ago in the case of Alix Rice, who was hit while skateboarding home one night, we discovered a loophole in the law," State Sen. Patrick Gallivan, (R) Elma said.

Gallivan explains the loophole allows people to use intoxication as a defense, saying they didn't know they hit someone.

"We put forward legislation. I'm pleased we have been able to pass it nearly unanimously in the senate each and every year for the past six years, and very frustrated though, and disappointed that the assembly has not done the same," Gallivan said.

While it's unclear if the drivers involved in the hit-and-runs were drunk, Buffalo police say they're making progress toward solving the cases.

The latest was a deadly hit-and-run on Broadway. Police say an SUV hit a 30-year-old man as he was trying to cross the street, then crashed into an NFTA bus shelter Saturday night. Officers found the SUV a short time later.

Police say identifying the vehicles is the key to solving the cases.

"Three of the four accidents, the hit-and-runs, we're close to solving those. The drivers were, we have those vehicles, we know what’s going on with them," said Deputy Commissioner Kimberly Beaty, Buffalo Police Department.

Arthur Redrick, 60, was killed on Bailey Avenue near Lang Avenue on May 26.

Tremont Seals, 7, was seriously injured on the Fourth of July on Loring Avenue. And two days later, 40-year-old Ramona Sanders was killed at East Ferry and Donovan on July 6.

Gallivan says the hit-and-runs are a reminder to his constituents that if they want change, it's time to call the current assembly sponsor Crystal Peoples-Stokes so the ongoing stalemate comes to an end.

"They are many members of the assembly that support this, including Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes," Gallivan said. "But for some reason, their leadership hasn't seen fit to put it on the respective agenda."

But Assemblyman Mickey Kearns says this extends far beyond people getting behind the wheel after having a drink.

"I don't think it's a coincidence that more people are using devices in the car, whether it be a phone, texting," Kearns, (D) Buffalo, said. "It's the law, you cannot text and drive."

Kearns believes driving is a privilege. He wants people to remember that the next time they put the key in the ignition.

"The best defense is common sense," Kearns said. "Just pull over."

Both Kearns and Gallivan say they are hopeful Alix's Law will pass. Until then, they say state law is letting people spend less time behind bars by just driving away.

"It causes any rational person to say, 'how can that be?' Gallivan asked. "Well in my view, it shouldn't be and Alix's Law fixes that."

Crystal Peoples-Stokes did not immediately return a request for comment on what her plans are for getting Alix's Law passed this next session.

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