Leaving the Scene in NY: ‘Alix’s Law’

“Hard cases, it has frequently been observed, are apt to introduce bad law.”

Robert Rolfe, 1st Baron Cranworth

Doctor gets 1 year in jail, fine & more

We have discussed New York’s anti-‘hit and run’ provisions before, in September and October of last year.

The legislature is proposing to amend these provisions, thanks to cases like that discussed in the video above, in which a well-heeled physician killed a skateboarder and kept going. The amendment is known as ‘Alix’s Law,’ after the young victim in that case.

If ‘Alix’s Law’ is enacted, Section 600 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law will be both narrower and sharper than it is now.

The proposed amendment requires you to stop and investigate if you know or ‘have cause to know’ that your vehicle “has come in contact with an object other than the roadway.”

The statute creates a presumption that if you hit something while driving in an impaired state you had cause to know you hit it.

Alix’s law has some rather obvious problems, though, which could in theory have unintended – and absurd – consequences. For instance, there is no exception for coming in contact with fallen leaves or discarded cigarette butts, so presumably drivers who wish to remain within the law and get where they’re going will abandon their cars and walk.

Alix’s law is also for some reason narrower than the current statute. The current language requires you to stop anytime your vehicle has been involved in an incident in which damage resulted. The new language only refers to ‘coming in contact.’

This, again, could lead to absurd results. For instance, a driver who through negligence caused someone else to swerve into another vehicle is ‘involved in an incident,’ but hasn’t ‘come in contact’ with anything other than the roadway. Conceivably, then, the very driver who caused an accident may be excused from stopping under Alix’s law.