Gov. Andrew Cuomo is vowing to step up enforcement of his weather-related truck travel bans, after personally chastising a number of truck drivers ticketed, this week, by New York State Police.
State officials estimate as many as a thousand heavy trucks would have normally passed over the section of the New York State Thruway–between Batavia and the Pennsylvania state line–during the time the ban was in place.
They believe as many as 200 trucks chose to ignore the ban during that period, and so far, most of them have gotten away with it.
Cuomo said the travel ban was about public safety, and ignoring it puts other drivers in jeopardy,
“It is not just about your life, it is about the lives that you will jeopardize. We have a state trooper in the hospital who was hurt attending to an accident caused by a tractor trailer.”
The Governor has suggested raising the level of severity for disregarding a travel ban from a traffic violation to a misdemeanor, which could jeopardize a truck drivers commercial drivers license.
Williamsville attorney Michael Taheri calls criminalizing traffic offenses unconscionable, “These are not criminals, and certainly the intent of the Vehicle and Traffic Law is not to criminalize an individual who is trying to provide for their family.”
State officials are also exploring the use of E-ZPass technology to monitor violators. If a truck driver’s E-Zpass account shows they were on a forbidden section of highway, the driver could be penalized.
But Tehari said that would be a heavy burden for prosecutors to overcome in a New York court of law.
“The prosecution would have to come into a local criminal court, and prove beyond a doubt all of the elements surrounding this ticket, including that the person driving the truck was the person identified in the traffic ticket.”
Because the E-ZPass accounts are owned by the trucking companies, Taheri said prosecutors can take civil action against the employer, but would still have to prove the violation case in court.