While New York does its best to create laws that protect the public, not everyone follows those laws. There are very clear laws in effect regarding the use of alcohol before driving, but many people still choose to drive home from a party or a bar after having a few drinks. Whenever they do, they put everyone else on the roads at risk with their decision.
For the average New York driver who avoids risky decisions, it's natural to believe that drunk driving may only be a risk on holidays or late at night. The truth is that people can get behind the wheel impaired any day of the year and any time of day. You should educate yourself about the risks and your rights if you experience a crash caused by a drunk driver.
Alcohol-related crashes kill hundreds of people each year
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drunk driving caused at least 3,752 deaths between 2003 and 2012. While the overall rate of deaths related to intoxicated driving is lower in New York than the United States as a whole, that number is still far too high. Every death related to impaired driving could have been prevented with better decision-making by the drunk driver.
While the CDC does not provide an analysis of injuries related to drunk driving crashes, it's reasonable to estimate that substantially more people suffer injuries in these crashes. Broken bones, traumatic brain injuries and even spinal cord injuries can result from a crash, leaving the victim with a long period of convalescence or even a future that involved permanent disability.
You can hold drunk drivers accountable for their decisions
The law in New York makes drunk driving a crime, especially in situations where the end result is a crash with injuries or a death. Knowing that the person who caused the accident will face criminal charges can help provide a sense of justice. However, it won't undue the damage caused by the decision to drive while impaired.
Those who suffer injuries caused by a drunk driver may have the option of seeking compensation for medical costs and lost wages. A personal injury lawsuit can help those suffering injuries related to impaired driving recover the financial losses they experienced after the crash.
Similarly, surviving family members may have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim against a drunk driver after a fatal collision. Even if the person responsible somehow avoids criminal conviction, your family will have the chance to pursue justice and seek repayment for financial losses related to the death of your loved one. Depending on the situation, it may also be the only way to hold the impaired driver accountable for the collision he or she caused.