NYC Could See 20MPH Speed Limit Under Newly Passed Sammy’s Law

Motorists traveling in New York City may have to adjust to a reduced speed limit thanks to the recent passing of a measure included in the state budget.

The measure – Assembly Bill A72668 – is known widely as Sammy’s Law in honor of Sammy Cohen Eckstein, a 12-year-old Brooklyn boy who was struck and killed by a speeding motorist while attempting to grab a soccer ball from a Park Slope street in 2013. It was passed as part of the NY State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2024-2025 Budget and signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday April 22, 2024 after more than a decade of advocacy and lobbying efforts.

How Sammy’s Law Could Impact NYC Speed Limit

Sammy’s Law is a sweeping measure that amends New York State vehicle and traffic law to allow cities with populations in excess of one million – like NYC – to reduce their speed limits.

While the power to set and reduce speed limits was previously exclusive to state lawmakers, the passing of Sammy’s Law will now give New York City the authority to lower its own speed limits for the first time in a decade. The last time speed limits were reduced in NYC was 2014, when the 30mph speed limit was dropped to 25mph.

While a final version of the legislation has not yet been published, the latest (and likely final) version of the Assembly Bill from February outlines how the law will work and what restrictions will apply. For example:

  • 20MPH. Cities with populations of one million or more can now lower their own speed limits. In NYC, this will likely mean a reduction to 20mph on many streets, with a particular focus on areas where safety is a concern, such as near schools, senior centers, and dangerous intersections.
  • Notice. New York City will need to give communities 60-day notice before lowering the speed limit on any street.
  • Restrictions. Sammy’s Law comes with some restrictions, especially in the outer boroughs. For example, it bars NYC from lowering the speed limit on roads with three or more travel lanes (in one direction) outside of Manhattan.

Supporters of Sammy’s Law hail its passage as a major step toward improving safety in the City, which has seen more than 2,200 people, including over 100 children, killed in traffic accidents since Sammy’s death. According to advocates, reducing the speed limit from 25mph to 20mph will not only give motorists more time to react and avoid collisions in critical situations, but also give pedestrians who are struck better chances of surviving. A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, for example, found that pedestrians face a 10% risk of death when struck by vehicles traveling at 23 miles per hour.

Traffic Ticket? Gannes & Musico, LLP Can Help.

Our team at Gannes & Musico, LLP is always supportive of measures that make our communities safer places, especially for children.

And while we commend the efforts of those who helped write and pass Sammy’s Law, we know that the big changes it will likely bring will be an adjustment for NYC motorists, many of whom have expressed concerns about a 20mph limit being too low or a potential cause for traffic congestion, and many others who fear that it gives the City even greater power to issue citations.

As such, our award-winning NYC traffic ticket attorneys are actively tracking how lower speed limits will be implemented and enforced throughout the City and preparing for an increase in citations for speeding and reckless driving. In the meantime, we’re still available to help drivers charged with traffic violations and other vehicular crimes explore their options for a defense.

Gannes & Musico, LLP is a trusted law firm that’s been providing aggressive traffic defense to NYC residents for over 30 years. Comprised of experienced attorneys, we’ve earned a reputation for handling all types of traffic violations and criminal charges and have secured thousands of “Not Guilty” verdicts for clients.

If you have questions about a ticket, give us a call at (877) 803-2603 or contact us online for a FREE consultation. We proudly serve clients across all NYC boroughs and beyond.

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