State Sen. George Maziarz, R-C, Newfane, is pleased to announce that "Abbagail's Law," legislation S.164C, which he sponsors, was approved in the State Senate this afternoon by a vote of 45-1.
Abbagail's Law would make it clear that any individual acting as a supervising driver while under the influence of alcohol or drugs shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. It also creates the crime of aggravated supervising a driver while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which shall be a Class E felony.
"It's simple to understand: If you are supervising a younger driver, you must be sober. Otherwise, the consequences can be tragic, like in the case of young Abbagail Buzard. When that happens, we have to have a way to bring the guilty to justice," Maziarz said.
The measure is named for Abbagail Buzard, an 8-year-old girl from Orleans County who was killed in an automobile accident on the night of Sep. 4, 2009. After drinking at a family party, Abby's father convinced a 17-year old cousin who had a learner's permit to drive him to a store to buy more alcohol. Unfortunately, Abby was in the car, and she lost her life after the inexperienced driver crashed after speeding on a curvy rural road. While the driver that night violated numerous laws, Abby's father could not be held criminally responsible even though he was the supervising adult in the car.
"This law will be a wonderful way to immortalize Abby and save other children," said Necole Buzard, Abby's mother, who has become a staunch advocate for the legislation.
"Abbagail's Law closes a big loophole by making it clear that 'supervising drivers' who are drunk or high will be held accountable for their irresponsible actions," Maziarz added. "This law is necessary and common sense legislation that will deter individuals from placing children and others in unnecessary dangerous situations and save lives. Abby had her whole life in front of her, and she had it taken away. We owe it to her and her mother to try to change the system."
Assemblywoman Aileen M. Gunther has introduced companion legislation in the Assembly.