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Law exempts town vehicle in accident with civilian

Section 1103 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law exempts vehicles that are engaged in highway work from complying with the rules of the road and limits liability in regard to reckless conduct. While the town may recognize its plow driver was at fault, unless there was solid proof of negligence"like driving while intoxicated or intentionally running a stop sign"the town is not held responsible for accidents of this type, in any way.

"They [the town] have already admitted that they knew they were at fault but won't do anything. If I were to hit the plow, I would be liable and as a taxpayer of New York State, I expect the officials and public works department to exercise safety in everything they do. They shouldn't be exempt from negligence and it was clearly a negligent act," said Czerewko. "It makes me feel like, as a citizen, I'm not important and I'm not valued. This portion of the law hurts the citizen; it hurts the good citizen that goes to work every day, attends church and pays the bills. It makes me feel like I don't matter. Since my accident is of no consequence to Halfmoon, it's like 'we wrecked your car, hurt you and know we're at fault, but oh well, move on.'"

Jennifer K. Post, a spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Transportation, said the law is quite valuable for governments because it takes into consideration the sometimes difficult factors municipal workers encounter while doing their jobs.

"It lets them get their jobs done while protecting taxpayers from having to pay for damages done while workers were doing their jobs for the good of the town," said Post. "They're allowed to do things they wouldn't ordinarily do in the regular course of driving."

Just this winter, there have been several other reported incidents, similar to Czerewko's. A man in the Town of Brunswick had his brand new Kia Spectra wrecked by town dump truck while it was parked in front of his house. A Saratoga Springs resident said it took nearly two years to settle an incident involving a town snow plow and a Queensbury plow truck reportedly hit the truck of an independent contractor.

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