Dawn Nappi, mother of Angelica Nappi, addressing Suffolk legislators in Hauppauge on May...

Dawn Nappi, mother of Angelica Nappi, addressing Suffolk legislators in Hauppauge on May 26, 2016. Credit: James Carbone

A bill that will crack down on reckless motorists, named for a Holbrook teenager killed in 2008 by an unlicensed driver with seven previous suspensions, was signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday.

Angelica’s Law will reduce to five the number of license suspensions needed to charge a driver with a Class E felony of first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation.

Previously, a driver needed to have his or her license suspended 10 times before the felony could be charged.

“Public safety is my top priority, and I’m committed to doing everything possible to keep New Yorkers safe,” said Hochul, who signed the legislation at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Garden City with the family of Angelica Nappi. “After Angelica Nappi tragically lost her life more than a decade ago, her family have channeled their pain into purpose to push for this legislation.”

Nappi was 14 years old when she was struck and killed on Route 101 by a driver whose license had been suspended seven times.

Dawn Riendeau, Angelica’s mother, pushed for the bill in Albany, which was first introduced in 2017.

“There were times when I felt like throwing in the towel, but I said, ‘You have to hang in there' ” Riendeau told Newsday in June after the bill passed the State Legislature. “I had to make sure my daughter’s death wasn’t in vain.”

In a statement Tuesday, Riendeau said: “Almost 16 years later, my fight for safer roadways has been acted upon. I know Angelica is proud.”

The other driver involved in the accident was released from jail after 4 months, according to the bill’s co-sponsor, State Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown).

“These changes will send a clear message to drivers who repeatedly break the law that they will face severe consequences for their criminal actions,” Thomas said. “Preventable deaths such as Angelica's have been caused by reckless and dangerous drivers. And they must be taken off the road.”

A driver convicted of that Class E felony will face a fine of $500 to $5,000 and a prison term as long as 2 years, according to the bill text. After four suspensions, drivers will be notified by the DMV “in bold and conspicuous type” that a fifth suspension or revocation for a moving violation would subject them to the felony charge.

“Our public highways, especially on Long Island, can be a dangerous place,” said the bill’s co-sponsor, Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor). “Improving highway safety must always be our paramount goal for New York.”

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