The bill could be named for Robert Ogle, a 16-year-old Middle Village teenager who was hit and killed in February by an intoxicated driver who stole an idling car and used it for the fatal joyride.
At a Transportation Committee hearing, Ogle’s parents testified in favor of the bill alongside Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who is the bill’s primary sponsor.
“I know too well that an unattended and running car can become a deadly weapon,” Brendan Ogle said in his testimony. “It is necessary to increase the awareness and penalties for people who are careless with their personal property because money talks.”
Robert Ogle and a friend were walking home after a party in February when a man under the influence of alcohol and drugs who had stolen an idling car on Woodhaven Boulevard struck and killed the pair.
The tragedy struck not long after a freak accident in Chinatown involving an idling, unattended van that jumped the sidewalk and killed two school children.
Brendan Ogle said the increased fines would make people think twice before leaving their cars idling in front of their homes, or in front of stores while they run inside on an errand.
“If people are aware that it costs $250, then they won’t leave their cars running and unattended,” he said. “This is necessary legislation that will avoid big problems for a lot of people because of someone else’s carelessness.”
In her testimony, Crowley, who introduced the bill in March, said deaths like Ogle’s are avoidable if the city takes action.
“Leaving your car running and unattended seems like a minor, careless mistake,” Crowley testified, “but all New Yorkers must understand that it is irresponsible, dangerous, and potentially deadly.”
Councilman John Liu, the Transportation Committee chairman, said it appears the police department and the Bloomberg administration favor passing the bill.
“It crushes me to think that lives can be taken because of someone’s careless mistake,” Liu said. “This simply cannot happen in this city."