A new law making assault on New York City sanitation workers a felony is now in effect.
A person convicted of the crime could face up to seven years behind bars, according to the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association Local 831, which represents such workers in New York City.
"An attack on a sanitation worker doing his or her duties is an assault on civilized society," sanitation union President Harry Nespoli said in a statement. "To put it simply, under this law, someone convicted of attacking one of our members, will be going to jail."
Assaults on city sanitation workers rose to 42 in 2011 compared to 17 in 2010, according to the union. Those assaults are often committed impatient drivers collection vehicles on narrow streets that don't allow the trucks to pull over.
The new state law gives city sanitation workers the same legal protection as firefighters and other uniformed forces, the union said.
"This law will send a message that we will not tolerate any violent attacks committed against the sanitation workers who work hard to keep our city clean. An attack on one of our sanitation workers is an attack on us all," Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a statement.