How Extensive Is The DWI Problem In New York?
In Westchester, the problems caused by people driving under the influence, have been extensive and our White Plains car accident lawyers have handled numerous cases where serious injuries and even fatalities have resulted from people driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. Our Westchester drunk driving accident attorneys know that drinking and driving is particularly dangerous in Westchester because of the amount of high speed parkways and the fact is that whether someone is intoxicated or even impaired by alcohol or drugs, their reaction time is diminished. To drive on a highway or parkway, a motorist needs to be able to react to changes in the road, and any delay can cause an accident. This is especially true in Westchester, where we have a number of parkways that have narrow lanes and turns that are not so smooth, like the Taconic, Saw Mill, Sprain, Cross Westchester Parkway and the Hutchinson Parkway. The problem is so severe that there have been a rising number of serious injuries resulting in fatalities. It has become so serious that a lot of the criminal standards have even increased. For example, if you obtain a second DWI within ten years that is now a felony with increased penalties. Driving while intoxicated offenses now have stiffer penalties and if a motorist’s blood alcohol level is above a certain level, there is now a crime of aggravated DWI, with harsher penalties.
Also, if you have a child in the car or someone under sixteen and you have been driving while intoxicated, that is now a felony, even for a first offense. Particularly in Westchester, our White Plains car accident lawyers see a lot of people driving home from the bars in Westchester or bar hopping between Port Chester and White Plains or White Plains and Mount Vernon or Yonkers, and there have been a lot of high speed accidents, because of diminished reaction time or the driver’s inability to keep their vehicle in a single lane on Westchester’s parkways. For example, if you went from Bronx to Manhattan then to Westchester, you will either be on the Hutchinson or pass through the towns of Rye and Harrison and Port Chester, or if you are heading to the Rivertowns, of Hobbs Ferry, Ardsley or Tarrytown, you will be on I-87 or the Saw Mill. All of these highways require unfettered attention while driving because most cars exceed the speed limit and some of the highways have sharp or sudden turns. The problem is some of the parkways, especially in Westchester, like the Bronx River Parkway and Sawmill parkway have a lot of twists and turns which are difficult to negotiate even sober. So when you add alcohol and delayed reactions while driving at a high rate of speed, more accidents will occur. Our Westchester DUI accident lawyers have certainly seen their fair share of accidents involving alcohol in recent years.
Our White Plains car accident attorneys have represented a number of people who have been seriously injured in accidents involving alcohol.
What Are The Liquor Liability Or Dram Shop Laws In New York?
Our Westchester drunk driving accident lawyers are very familiar with New York’s dram shop laws. The New York State Dram Shop Act, which is found in New York’s general obligations law, is a state-wide act or a state-wide law that basically applies anywhere in the state of New York. Both New York City and Westchester County covers this law no matter where the accident occurred. Basically, the dram shop act makes the serving of alcohol, mainly a commercial server such as a bar or restaurant, it does not really apply to social hosts, but any kind of bar or restaurant that violated the liquor laws by either serving someone who is underage, or someone who is obviously intoxicated and out of control. The serving establishment is liable for the effects from the alcohol of that person and any damages that were caused by the actions of that intoxicated person.
This is a very useful law to anyone injured in a drunk driving accident, because too often, those who are irresponsible and drive drunk, are not responsible enough to carry adequate insurance for the injuries they cause. So you can be in a situation where you have a horrific personal injuries, and the person who caused them is in jail and has only minimal insurance. The Dram Shop law provides some relief to this problem by making commercial establishments responsible for injuries caused by serving alcohol to already drunk patrons or underage patrons. The law applies to any kind of case where someone is injured by the illegal sale of alcohol by a commercial establishment. For example, an assault, drinking and driving, boating accidents, and any situation where the scenario of an individual was served alcohol illegally whether it being because they were under the age of twenty-one or because they were already intoxicated, that will trigger the dram shop liability law. If there is any violation of the alcohol beverage and control law in the state of New York, which causes or results in an accident, makes the commercial entity, such as a bar or a liquor store who served the intoxicated person, liable for their actions. Our lawyers in Westchester who handle drunk driving accidents have successfully brought many cases under the Dram Shop Act.
Who Can Additionally Be Held Liable In An Alcohol Related Accident?
In an alcohol related accident, anywhere in the state of New York, including White Plains, Yonkers, Rye, Port Chester, New Rochelle, Ossining, Mount Vernon, Tarrytown, Valhalla, Mount Pleasant, Sleepy Hollow, Dobbs Ferry and Mount Kisco, there are a number of different entities that can be held responsible. Obviously if it is a car accident case, the driver of the car and their insurance company is responsible. But in a lot of these cases, unfortunately they do not have sufficient insurance coverage to cover the extent of the damages that were incurred. In that situation, that person can also look to their own insurance company for something called Supplemental Underinsured Motorist Benefits and our White Plains car accident lawyers have successfully handled many SUM claims.
In addition, typically what will happen is a person will be arrested for driving while intoxicated, then we will get the arrest records and at some point before we are able to figure out where they were drinking either because the person who was injured was in the same car as them and knows who they were prior to the accident, or through the discovery process. Many times we can tell based upon the BAC known as blood alcohol content. This information is gathered from the individual’s criminal records.
In other words, if you show a 0.18% BAC, we know based on standard metabolic rates that they would have had a certain number of drinks in a certain number of hours. Our White Plains accident attorneys can backtrack that to see what their BAC was at the time that they were at the bar or a liquor store or wherever they were, and we can establish that usually through our forensic toxicologist. It should show that they were actually intoxicated and when precisely they were served alcohol. Many times with underage drivers, for example, the intoxication is not as much of an issue because the sale alone to a minor is against the law. So whoever sold the alcohol becomes responsible.
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