New York City Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
It only takes one irresponsible action to completely change a life. For many New Yorkers, the decision to drive while under the influence has resulted in serious injuries, emotional trauma, and lost lives.
Even when you are careful and responsible, unfortunately, you can wind up paying for someone else’s choice of drunk driving. If you have been injured or lost a family member in a New York City drunk driving accident, the team at Hill & Moin is here to protect your rights.
Our drunk driving accident lawyers are available to help you navigate the legal processes following the accident and help you recover the compensation you are owed for your losses. Call us today at 212-668-6000 for your free consultation with our team at Hill & Moin LLP in New York City.
Drunk Driving: A Nationwide Problem
While there has been some headway in recent decades to combat the growing problem of drunk driving, it remains a concerning problem across the United States and a leading cause of fatal motor vehicle accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Administration has reported some alarming statistics regarding alcohol-impaired driving in 2021:
- Fatalities in alcohol-impaired driving crashes increased by 14.2 percent from 2020 to 2021
- The 21- to 34-year-old age groups had the highest incidence rates, accounting for 54 percent of alcohol-impaired drivers in 2021
- Drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes were 4 times more likely to have prior Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) convictions
New York is not an exception when it comes to drunk driving crashes as well. The same report by the NHTSA noted that some 39 percent of traffic fatalities throughout New York State in 2021 involved a driver with at least some alcohol in his or her system.
Advocates have pushed to lower the BAC limit from 0.08 to 0.05 in an attempt to decrease drunk driving fatalities in the state. However, drunk drivers continue to pose a risk on roads across the state.
Signs of Driving Under the Influence
The effects alcohol has on a person makes operating a motor vehicle especially dangerous. There are some common hazardous indications of a person driving under the influence.
Weaving between lanes
One of the most common signs of a driver who is impaired by alcohol is the inability to stay within the lanes. Often, he or she will begin to drift or weave between lanes and then abruptly overcorrect into the proper lane.
This inability to stay within a lane makes a drunk driver unpredictable and hard to avoid, especially when this happens on a highway or other area with fast moving traffic.
Driving too fast or too slow
Another tell-tale sign of a driver who is under the influence is his or her speed. A drunk driver will often drive either too fast or too slow for the road and conditions, both of which are dangerous for other people on the road.
Decreased inhibitions can cause a driver to drive dangerously fast for the road conditions, being unable to properly perceive and avoid a dangerous situation. Conversely, a drunk driver may drive unreasonably slow due to a lack of concentration or awareness of the surroundings.
Increased reaction time
Alcohol impairs a person’s ability to react to a situation. When driving, this can mean that a drunk driver stops too late at a traffic light, turns corners too fast or too tight, or fails to notice a pedestrian.
Driving requires a lot of focus and the ability to react to potential hazards. Since an impaired driver is unable to do this, even situations that normally could have been avoided can become dangerous, even deadly, when someone is driving while impaired.
DWI Laws in New York
As in every state, driving while under the influence of alcohol is a crime in New York. However, state laws vary on how DWI/DUI offenses are defined, as well as the penalties.
In New York, there are 3 major types of alcohol-related DWI offenses, depending on the BAC level, each with its own penalties:
- Driving while ability impaired (DWAI)
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- Aggravated DWI
In addition to these offenses, drivers can face additional charges under New York’s Zero Tolerance and implied consent laws. Under the Zero Tolerance law, underage drinkers with a BAC over a certain amount. Under the implied consent laws, a driver can be charged if he or she refuses to provide a test for drugs or alcohol.
Penalties for DWI-related offenses depend on the type of offense, and whether the person is a repeat offender, ranging from a small fine to years in jail.
Liability in Drunk Driving Cases
One of the first things that a drunk driving accident attorney will do is identify liable parties. Of course, the primary person who is liable is the drunk driver himself. However, a number of other people and entities may be found liable as well.
The establishment that served or sold the alcohol
Under New York Law Section 11-101, sometimes referred to as dram shop laws, there are situations where an establishment that serves alcohol can be found liable for injuries caused by a drunk driver.
In order to prove dram shop liability, two things must be proven:
- The establishment served alcohol illegally
- The sale or provision of alcohol was a substantial factor in the damages caused
Serving alcohol illegally includes selling or serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or someone under the legal drinking age.
The social host
If it was a private host who served the alcohol, different laws would apply. In some states, such as New Jersey, an injured person may bring a lawsuit against a social host who provided alcohol to the person who later caused an accident, depending on the situation.
However, the social host liability laws are more strict in New York. Social hosts can only be found liable if the host served alcohol to a person who was under the legal drinking age.
Another party in the crash
At times, there are multiple parties involved in one car accident. While the drunk driver may have been principally responsible for the accident, there may have been other involved drivers whose negligent actions contributed to the crash as well.
Negligent actions that can contribute to a car accident are:
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield
- Reckless driving
- Drowsy driving
Depending on the circumstances, compensation can be recovered from multiple parties after an accident. This can help ensure that there is sufficient insurance coverage to provide maximum compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.
When There is No Criminal Case
What if the drunk driver was not charged with or convicted of a DWI offense? Does that mean that you will be unable to recover compensation for your losses?
There are a number of reasons why there may be no charges or no conviction in a DWI case. In a criminal case, a person must be proven liable beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor may believe that there is insufficient evidence to lay criminal charges. Or there may have been mishandled evidence that overturned or prevented a conviction.
However, the standards of a civil case, such as a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit, are different. The burden of proof is lower than in a criminal case. This means that even if charges were not laid or there was no conviction, it is still possible for a person to be found liable in a civil case for the same action.
How a New York City Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Can Help
After a serious car accident, you likely have many concerns – the health and safety of yourself and your family, as well as how you will handle the economic impact caused by medical bills and lost work.
On top of these essential concerns, it can be overwhelming to consider the legal implications involved and negotiate with the insurance company to recover fair compensation. That’s when you need to seek qualified assistance. When you work with an experienced New York City drunk driving accident lawyer, you can leave the legal concerns in his or her hands.
While some car accident cases are relatively simple, others can be complex and especially require the help of a legal professional. These complex cases include situations where there is insufficient insurance coverage, or serious injuries such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, or even death.
Contact Hill & Moin LLP Today
At the New York law firm of Hill & Moin, our attorneys are dedicated to helping clients win their cases and recover the full amount of compensation that they deserve after a car accident.
In addition to our thorough understanding of drunk driving accident cases, we are also ready to take the time needed to learn about you and your family so we can better represent your interests.
Your attorney can play an important role in your drunk driving accident case, including:
- Communicating with the insurance company: Many times, insurance companies will harass or pressure drunk driving accident victims in an attempt to have them accept a low offer. When you are represented by a lawyer at our firm, though, he or she takes communication with the insurance company off your plate.
- Investigating the evidence: Your lawyer can take the time to investigate every detail of your accident, gathering essential evidence to strengthen your case. This investigation can uncover other potentially liable parties as well.
- Consulting with experts: Expert testimony can be a useful resource in a drunk driving accident case. Your drunk driving accident lawyer can call upon various experts such as accident reconstruction experts or medical professionals to help build your case.
- Fighting for maximum compensation: After reviewing the details of the accident and your losses, your lawyer can evaluate how much compensation you should be able to recover. He or she can fight for you to get the amount you deserve, even if that requires going to court.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with our team. We will be happy to hear your story and offer the Personal Injury Recovery SolutionsⓇ you need. Call us 24/7 at 212-668-6000 or fill out our online form to get started with your free and confidential consultation.
Don’t wonder about your rights!