The Northern Tier truck driver accused of striking and killing a New York State Department of Transportation employee last month in Tioga County, N.Y., has been charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide.
Lawrence E. Faucett, 37, of Ulster, Pa., pleaded not guilty on April 15 in Tioga County, N.Y., Court after an indictment was unsealed for the felony charge in the death of Dennis Matthew Howe, 45, of Owego. Faucett appeared in court with his attorney and was released on his own recognizance.
Police said Faucett’s tractor-trailer struck a DOT vehicle parked on the side of state Route 17 on March 13, critically injuring Howe as he was working with a DOT crew doing roadside maintenance between Exit 63 (Lounsberry) and Exit 62 (Nichols). Howe was airlifted to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, where he died on March 18. Howe had been a DOT employee since 2006.
State Police said Faucett failed to obey the state’s Move Over Law. He was initially ticketed for Moving from the Lane Unsafely and Failure to Obey the Move Over Law.
But this is why Faucett is facing the more serious charge:
Prosecutors had a choice of prosecuting Faucett for either Criminally Negligent Homicide or Manslaughter. Both charges are felonies but Criminally Negligent Homicide is an E felony (possible sentence 1-4 years) while Manslaughter in the Second degree is a higher C felony with a possible sentence of 7-15 years.
With Manslaughter, the prosecution is required to prove that the defendant recklessly caused the death of another person.
With Criminally Negligent Homicide, the legal standard is lower and the prosecution must only prove that the defendant was criminally negligent which includes conduct that was careless, reckless or inattentive. In this case, the prosecution could prove Faucett’s criminal negligence by showing his carelessness in violating the state’s Move Over law.
If convicted of the charge, Faucett could be sentenced to up to four years in prison. However, state sentencing guidelines would allow for lesser penalties, including probation and no jail or prison time.
The New York State Move Over Law requires cars to move over and slow down, if they can safely do so, for police, firefighters, ambulance workers, tow-truck drivers and other personnel as they work at crash scenes or on disabled vehicles. Motorists are similarly required to move over when construction and maintenance vehicles are stopped alongside roads – this includes New York State Department of Transportation vehicles that care for our highways.
The law, first enacted in 2011, was expanded in July 2016 to include volunteer firefighter and ambulance workers. In November 2016, sanitation vehicles, such as garbage and recycling trucks, were also added.
According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, more than 100,000 people have been ticketed for failing to move over since 2011, including more than 12,000 in 2018.
The penalty for violating the Move Over Law is a fine of up to $150, or jail time of up to 15 days, or both. It also counts for two points on a driver’s license. A second offense within 18 months of the first one could double the amount of the fine, pushing it up to $300. A third offense in 18 months could lead to a fine of up to $450.
There are also steep state surcharges on moving violations: $88 or $93 upon conviction for violating New York’s Move Over Law, and there’s an impact on vehicle insurance: Studies confirm that being convicted of a moving violation can result in a rate increase of up to 20 percent, sometimes more.
The Move Over Law is important – it protects vulnerable people who are forced to work at the edges of roadways where cars, trucks and tractor trailers are flying by mere feet away. Because the protected people are busy doing their job, they can’t pay as much attention to traffic as they would like. When people violate the move over law, the results can be tragic, and injuries are certain to be very serious because of the speed of the moving vehicles.
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