If you have been injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, whether you were a driver or a passenger in another vehicle, a passenger in the car with the drunk driver, or a pedestrian, you want an experienced Long Island drunk driving accident lawyer to help protect your interests. Your ability to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries can depend in part or in whole on your lawyer’s ability to demonstrate your right to recover. The accident attorneys at Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP can help you protect your rights.
At our offices in Suffolk and Nassau county, we bring almost three decades of personal injury experience to people across Long Island. Since 1983, we have worked with thousands of people, helping them recover full and fair compensation for injuries caused by the careless or negligent acts of others. Our Long Island drunk driving accident lawyers know what to expect in a personal injury lawsuit and can anticipate defense arguments so that we prepare and present evidence to support your claim.
We offer a free initial consultation to all clients. To schedule an appointment, send us an e-mail or call us at (631) 451-7900.
Protecting People Injured by Drunk Drivers in Long Island
The first and most important rule here is to never get into a car with a drunk driver. If you knowingly take a ride with an inebriated person, you may be unable to recover for any injuries suffered in an accident.
If you have been injured in a car or truck accident involving a drunk driver, we can help you. Our Long Island drunk driving accident attorneys handle all types of claims stemming from motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk drivers, including claims involving:
- Injuries sustained in multicar accidents caused by failure to use appropriate caution, failure to recognize or obey traffic signs or signals, driving in excess of reasonable speed limits, or inability to properly control a vehicle.
- Injuries sustained in single-car accidents by drivers running off the road, losing control, or failing to maintain safe distances or abide by traffic signs, signals or markers.
- Injuries to pedestrians or bystanders by drunk drivers.
We handle cases involving all types of injuries caused by drunk drivers, including contusions, sprains or strains, as well as serious and catastrophic injuries, such as brain or spinal cord trauma, broken bones, paralysis, and amputation or loss of limb. We also represent survivors in wrongful death actions.
All personal injury claims involving motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk drivers are handled on a contingency fee basis. We will only charge attorney fees if your Long Island motor vehicle lawyer recovers compensation for your injuries.
Drunk Driving Statistics
Drunk driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, is extremely dangerous in any situation. Not only does it put the Long Island drunk driver at significant risk, it also endangers everyone on the road around the drunk driver. In addition to this risk, there are is a financial impact as well. Drunk driving motor vehicle crashes cost American taxpayers billions of dollars every year. One of the most heartbreaking aspects of drunken driving fatalities is that they are all preventable. Unfortunately, many people still engage in this dangerous act and drunk driving has effects that impact tens of thousands of American lives each year.
- According to statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 28 people die every day in the United States from alcohol-related crashes. This translates to about one death every 53 minutes in the U.S.
- Alcohol-related car crashes cost American taxpayers roughly $52 billion each year.
- The NHTSA reports that there were 10,265 deaths from alcohol-related car crashes in 2015 alone. Of those deaths, 181 were children under 14 years old.
- Roughly one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the U.S. involve alcohol.
- Statistics indicate that men are more likely to engage in drunk driving than women.
- Public awareness campaigns, state safety grant programs and NHTSA research have successfully saved more than 14,000 lives over the past decade and reduced drunk driving deaths by significant percentages in many states.
- Even a small amount of alcohol can contribute to a fatal accident. The legal blood-alcohol-concentration (BAC) limit is .08 in every state. However, 1,764 people died in 2014 alone with BAC measured lower than .08.
Understanding Alcohol’s Effects on Driving Ability
Alcohol affects everyone differently, but it’s vital to recognize the common trends that accompany alcohol consumption. As a person consumes more and more alcohol, the effects become more apparent and more profound. The NHTSA reports general descriptions of the effects of blood alcohol concentration at several levels:
- At .02% BAC, a person will typically experience relaxation, a warm bodily sensation, altered mood, and slightly impaired judgment. While driving, a .02% BAC can impair the eyes’ ability to rapidly track moving objects and the brain’s ability to perform two tasks at once.
- At .05% BAC, behavior may become more exaggerated or erratic. Fine-motor skills and small muscle control start to decline. The warm, pleasant feelings increase as alertness and inhibitions decrease. Behind the wheel, a .05% BAC can make it much more difficult to track moving objects and drivers will usually have a diminished response time to sudden changes on the road.
- At the legal limit of .08% BAC, muscle coordination is significantly impaired and it becomes much harder for the person to notice danger in the vicinity. Coordination, memory, judgment, reasoning, and self-control often diminish as well. Some of the most predictable effects a .08% BAC can have behind the wheel are poor concentration, impaired perception, slower information processing, and poor reaction time.
- A .10% BAC leads to obviously diminished reaction time, coordination, and reasoning. People at this BAC level typically slur their speech and appear uncoordinated or clumsy. While driving, a .10% BAC is extremely dangerous as the driver will likely have a reduced ability to maintain his or her position in a lane and apply pressure to the gas and brake pedals safely.
- The NHTSA marks .15% BAC as substantially dangerous. At this point, the person will more than likely experience nausea, vomiting, major loss of balance and coordination, and significantly impaired reasoning and judgment. Getting behind the wheel with this high of a BAC is incredibly dangerous as drivers at .15% BAC will more than likely fail to notice changes on the road quickly enough to maneuver appropriately. They will also fail to safely maintain control of their vehicles due to impaired motor functions. Additionally, people at this stage of alcohol consumption may become sick behind the wheel or fall unconscious, presenting various other potential risks.
These are just a few of the statistics the NHTSA has gathered on drunk driving and should indicate to drivers across the country that it is never worth the risk to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Thanks to technology, most adults have cell phones with them at all times they can use to call for help, and various ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have become popular, offering a safe alternative to driving home drunk after a night of drinking.
New York DWI Laws
Residents of New York should take the time to familiarize themselves with the state’s DWI (driving while intoxicated) laws. DWI charges entail significant penalties which increase dramatically with repeat offenses. It’s also vital for drivers younger than 21 to understand the consequences of violating New York’s Zero Tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving.
In New York, the BAC limit is .08% as it is throughout the country. For drivers under 21, the Zero Tolerance BAC limit is .02%. A BAC reading of .02% or higher will entail significant penalties for a person under 21. New York also follows an enhanced penalty law for drunk drivers who display a .18% BAC reading or higher, which leads to an aggravated DWI charge.
New York also upholds an “implied consent” law for drivers, meaning that any licensed driver, by driving, consents to perform field sobriety tests and/or chemical tests if a law enforcement officer suspects DWI. While drivers technically have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, doing so in New York violates the state’s implied consent laws and results in an automatic six month to one-year license suspension. Additionally, refusing a breathalyzer can lead to a $500 fine.
Penalties for Drunk Driving in New York
Violating implied consent may seem preferable to a DWI charge, but the reality is that refusing a test does nothing to protect you from such charges; it only delays them and aggravates the law enforcement officers handling the situation. Whenever you encounter the police, it is always best to follow instructions and be as cooperative and respectful as possible.
The state of New York upholds various laws that determine the penalties for driving while intoxicated, and these penalties vary based on the driver’s BAC, past DWI charges, the substances involved, any injuries resulting from the driver’s behavior, the types of vehicles involved, the location of the accident, and several other factors.
New York has multiple offense classifications for DWI charges:
- A BAC of .08% or higher for passenger vehicle drivers and .04% for commercial vehicle drivers is a DWI charge.
- A BAC of .18% of higher, or driving while intoxicated with a passenger age 15 or younger constitutes an aggravated DWI charge.
- Alcohol-DWAI (driving while ability impaired). A lesser charge that applies when a “reasonable and prudent” driver is visibly impaired to “any extent” by alcohol.
- Drug-DWAI applies to any “reasonable and prudent” driver who is visibly impaired to “any extent” by drug use.
- Combination-DWAI applies to a “reasonable and prudent” driver impaired to “any extent” by a combination of drugs and alcohol.
A DWI charge leads to significant administrative penalties in New York. A first offense DWI, often called DUI (driving under the influence) for a driver with a BAC between .08% and .18% typically leads to a license suspension for six months or more. A first-time offense with a BAC higher than .18% or for a driver under the age of 21 will face license suspension for one year. Violating New York’s implied consent law by refusing a chemical test usually results in a one-year suspension for first-time offenders as well.
Most first offenders will face a license suspension and must complete an Impaired Driver Program and pay reinstatement fees to have the license returned. Additionally, all first-time DWI drivers will have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles. These devices prevent the car from starting until the driver blows into the device to check for the presence of alcohol. First offenders should also bear in mind that while New York does not strictly require jail time for first-time DWI charges, it is possible to receive a jail sentence of up to one year in some cases.
Penalties for Multiple Offenses
DWI penalties exist to deter drivers found guilty of DWI from engaging in this dangerous act in the future. Of course, some people do not learn after their first DWI charge and eventually receive another. With each subsequent DWI charge, drivers face harsher penalties and may even receive criminal charges in some cases. The associated costs increase with multiple DWI charges as well.
After each charge, a driver incurs fines, license suspension, possible jail time, and must attend traffic school and/or substance abuse education courses. The fines, suspension time, and possibility for jail time increase with each charge. Additionally, a second DWI charge in New York may lead to vehicle confiscation.
Costs of a DWI in New York
Surveys indicate that the average overall cost for a first time DWI charge is roughly $6,500. This costs breaks down as follows:
- Attorneys’ fees.
- Court-ordered fines. In New York, most first-time DWI charges incur fines of $500 up to $1,000.
- Higher costs for car insurance. After receiving a DWI charge, your car insurance company will likely increase your rates for your auto insurance policy. On average, this can amount to as much as $800 more per year in insurance premiums.
- Costs of required courses. You still have to pay for the courses the court requires you to attend after a DWI charge. On average, traffic school and substance abuse education courses cost first-time DWI recipients about $360.
- Ignition interlock devices (IIDs). New York requires first-time DWI drivers to install IIDs on their vehicles at their own expense. IIDs cost about $170.
- Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) fees. After a DUI arrest, the driver will likely incur fees for license and vehicle registration, namely reinstatement fees, typically amounting to about $260.
- Towing and vehicle storage. After a DUI arrest, the police will not let you drive your own car home. If no one can drive your car home for you, towing and storage usually costs about $170.
- Bail. You may have to go to jail after a DUI arrest, and if you want to get out as soon as possible you will have to pay bail, which is about $150 on average.
There are various other factors that may increase these costs, and the costs will increase with each offense. Ultimately, drunk driving is a terrible choice in every way. There is never a good reason to risk these penalties or harm to yourself or others, especially since there are alternative ways to get home.
Consult a Local Long Island Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a drunk driver, we can help. Contact us online or call us at (631) 451-7900 to set up an appointment. Our Long Island drunk driving accident attorneys will meet with you at a location that is convenient for you, including your home or the hospital if necessary.