After the sentencing of Austin Soldano, a Long Island man who killed 12 year old Zachary Ranftle while driving with a suspended license, local District Attorney Madeline Singas once again asked Albany to pass legislation which would stiffen penalties for suspended and revoked drivers who seriously injure or kill others.
According to DA, Singas, says Soldano’s crimes should not be charged as a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of only six months in jail, but rather he should be charged with felony charges.
DA Singas’ repeated call for action came again after Soldano was sentenced this past Wednesday to charges in two vehicular crime cases. One, in an August 2014 incident in which he drove while intoxicated which is a felony in Long Beach, and caused his license to be suspended in the first place, and then again in the December 2014 incident in which he struck and killed 12 year old Zachary Ranftle in Valley Stream.
For the drunken driving case, Soldano pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving, failure to stop at an intersection, and resisting arrest. For the case involving the death of Ranftle, he pleaded guilty to second degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and failure to exercise due care.
In addition, he was also previously convicted on a 2013 incident on the Southern State Parkway where Soldano pleaded guilty to third degree unlawful fleeing of a police officer in a motor vehicle, and reckless driving.
The legislation (S4649-A/A7245-A), which was authored by DA Singas’ office and sponsored by Senator Jack Martins and Assembly members Todd Kaminsky and David McDonough, would make driving with a suspended or revoked license chargeable as an E felony in incidents involving serious injury. Under the proposed law, suspended and revoked drivers involved in incidents resulting in death would be charged with a D felony.
The maximum sentence for an E felony is 1-1/3 to four years in prison; the maximum sentence for a D felony is 2-1/3 to seven years in prison.
Currently, suspended and revoked drivers involved in incidents resulting in serious injury or death face misdemeanor charges carrying a maximum sentence of six months of local jail time.
Soldano is scheduled to be sentenced for his 2013 case in Nassau County District Court on March 1st. For more on this story, click here.
The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem.