Every day 29 people die in an accident caused by an alcohol-impaired driver. In 2016 alone, 10,497 people died as the result of an alcohol-impaired driving crash. This accounts for 28% of all traffic deaths in the United States. Drunk driving accidents are serious and can result in severe injuries or death as these crashes usually involve high speeds. Drunk driving accidents are different from regular car accidents. While the driver can be held liable for damages, there are others who may be held responsible as well.
What is Drunk Driving?
In New York State there are a number of criminal drunk driving offenses with which a driver can be charged. The charge usually depends on the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of the driver at the time of the arrest. Charges include:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)— the driver has a BAC of .08% or more. This is the legal limit in New York.
- Aggravated DWI— the driver has a BAC of .18% or more
- Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI/Alcohol)— the driver has a BAC of .05 % to .07% or demonstrates other evidence of impairment.
- Driving While Impaired by a single drug other than alcohol (DWAI/Drug)
- Driving While Impaired by drugs and alcohol (DWAI/Combination)
Evidence of Drunk Driving
A drunk driver’s fault in an accident can be established using the same evidence that would be used in a criminal case:
- Failure of field sobriety tests
- Results of a breathalyzer and/or blood tests establishing BAC
- Testimony of witnesses about the driver’s condition (smelled of alcohol, was stumbling or driving erratically)
- Any statements made by the driver
If a drunk driver pleads guilty or is convicted of an intoxicated driving offense, this is, of course, helpful to any lawsuit against the driver. However, even if the driver is not convicted criminally, you can still pursue a civil case.
New York Dram Shop Law
Under New York’s Dram Shop Law, it is illegal for businesses such as bars and clubs to serve alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated or who is under 21 years of age. If the intoxicated person causes injury to a third party, the business that served the alcohol can be held liable. The key to cases filed against a business under the Dram Shop Law is establishing that the individual was visibly intoxicated. Signs of visible intoxication include bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and a lack of physical coordination. Proof of an individual’s physical appearance or demeanor and even expert witness testimony can be used to establish visible intoxication.
Social Host Liability
Under New York’s Social Host Liability, an individual can be held liable for providing alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 if that person’s causes injury. This liability is typically seen in cases where parents provide alcohol to their underage children and their children’s friends. The primary purpose of this liability is to deter adults from allowing underage drinking in their homes.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a drunk driving accident, you should have an attorney evaluate your claim to determine who may be liable. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping injured New Yorkers. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español