Abbagail Buzard, 8, died because the supervising adult riding in the vehicle in which she was riding was drunk, and the 17-year-old who was driving violated numerous traffic laws.

Unfortunately, the supervising adult, her father, could not be charged despite the fact he was drunk and had convinced the 17-year-old who had only a learner’s permit to drive him to the liquor store for more alcohol.

Abbagail’s Law states that any individual acting as a supervising driver while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. It also creates a new crime of aggravated supervising a driver while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a Class E felony.

For supporters of the law, it is long over due. Just because you’re a licensed driver doesn’t give you the right to act stupid in a vehicle, whether or not you are driving it at the time. As a supervisory driver you are supposed to be supervising the driver who does not yet have their license.

You just can’t do that properly if you’re three sheets to the wind or under the influence of drugs or texting. People must take responsibility for their actions, most especially when their actions are directly responsible for the actions of someone who is relying on them to be responsible.

Abbagail’s Law passed the New York Senate on a vote of 45-1.  It mirrors a law in the state Assembly which was introduced by Assemblywoman Aileen M. Gunther, which also seems likely to pass with nearly unanimous support.

And for good reason. By increasing the punishment on people who shirk their responsibilities, and provide law enforcement the tools to exact this punishment on those who fail in those responsibilities, we send a message to everyone that being in a vehicle, whether you are behind the wheel or just watching over the shoulder of someone who is, you must rise to the challenge.

To do otherwise risks your life, the life of everyone in your vehicle and the lives of everyone who shares the road with you.

Image: Stuart Miles /