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Driver's Blood Alcohol Won't Be Considered in Crash That Killed Girl, 3

By Katie Honan | January 6, 2015 5:45pm | Updated on January 7, 2015 9:10am
 The DMV judge didn't take the driver's .039 blood alcohol level as evidence at the Jan. 6 hearing. 
Driver's Blood Alcohol Level Not Taken as Evidence in Liao Hearing
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JAMAICA — A judge decided that the a motorist's blood alcohol level and New Jersey driving record will not be considered in a hearing about revoking his license — months after he fatally struck a 3-year-old in Flushing last year.

The move came as the family of the girl who was killed, Allison Liao, made an emotional plea for justice at the Department of Motor Vehicles on Rockaway Boulevard in Queens.

“My entire family has been suffering heartbreaking pains,” said Liao's grandmother, Chin Hua Liao, who was also injured in the crash, in the packed courtroom.

The crash sparked outrage because no criminal charges were filed in the case and another DMV judge tossed out the tickets that were issued against the driver, Ahmad Abu-Zayedeh.

Judge Sidney Fuchs adjourned the hearing without making a decision. It's not clear when he'll announce his ruling.

The two tickets Abu-Zayedeh was issued, for failure to yield and failure to use due care, were tossed out by another DMV judge at a separate hearing in July, officials said. Each ticket would have cost $150 each.

The court date Monday was a “safety hearing” that the DMV orders whenever there is a fatal accident, an official said.

The Liao family's lawyer, Steve Vaccaro, asked that Abu-Zayedeh’s blood alcohol content — which was recorded at .039 percent an hour after the crash, according to NYPD documents — be used as evidence.

Under New York law, that level was under the legal limit for DWI, which is .08 and DWAI, which is .05.

Vaccaro also argued that Abu-Zayedeh's license was suspended in New Jersey from 2002-09, but the driver's lawyer, Shawn Turck, argued that client's driving record has been clean since he moved to New York in 2009.

Abu-Zayedeh had his license suspended twice in 2002 for an Aug. 2001 and Oct. 2001 incident, but it was restored in June 2002, according to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. When his license in the state expired in Feb. 2010, he was a driver in good standing, a spokeswoman said. 

The judge declined to allow both as evidence, but will take into consideration graphic dashboard camera video that captured the accident, as well as the police report, into consideration.

He also heard from the NYPD officers who investigated the crash and Allison’s grandmother, who was holding her granddaughter’s hand as they crossed Main Street, near Cherry Street, moments before the crash.

She became distraught as she recounted what happened that day.

"There was a red light for [the cars], I was on the street," Chin Hua Liao told the judge, through a translator.

"I looked from left to right, and there was no traffic, and I started walking."

She then stopped and complained of chest pains during the hearing, but continued to describe the traumatic accident that left her injured and unable to sleep, her son said. 

Dashboard camera footage showed Chin Hua Liao pick up Allison after the car’s driver's-side wheels drove over her.

Liao Family Testimony in Support of 19-190 and Crash Video from Vaccaro and White on Vimeo.

A vigil will be held Tuesday night at 6:30 at the scene of the crash. 

Allison’s parents were also at the hearing with their 5-month-old son, Aidan, but were not allowed to testify because they were not directly involved in the case.

But they spoke after and expressed their hurt over having to wait again for a decision.

“It’s astounding that it took 47-seconds for the first hearing to throw out the tickets, and still takes ...over 24 hours or more to make a decision on his license,” Hsi-Pei Liao, Allison’s father, said through tears.

“Our family should be rebuilding, not fighting for our daughter’s justice, to go through a process." 

Her mother, Amy, said even if Abu-Zayedeh lost his license, it would be a "pittance" compared to the loss of her daughter. 

“The judge viewed the video and he still didn’t make a decision,” she said. “I don’t know what else he needs to know.”