Albany Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
No reasonable person would drink and drive. Unfortunately, every day, people in Albany, Syracuse and throughout New York defy the law – and common sense – by consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel or by selling or providing alcohol to drunk drivers. As a result, they expose others to the risk of car accidents, injuries and death.
According to the most recent yearly crash statistics, drunk drivers in New York caused:
- 8,368 total crashes
- 387 deaths
- 6,019 injuries.
It is not only motorists and passengers who were harmed. In the same year, drunk drivers caused 510 pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and 111 deaths in our state.
The car accident lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP, have been protecting the rights of crash victims and their families in New York since 1987. If you have been harmed or lost a loved one in a crash caused by a suspected drunk driver, we can seek the compensation you deserve. Contact our car accident lawyers to receive a free consultation and discuss how we can help you.
What Are New York’s Drunk Driving Laws?
New York State defines driving while intoxicated (DWI) as driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher or “other evidence of intoxication.” If a driver is operating a commercial vehicle, the BAC limit is 0.04.
A related offense is driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI), which means driving with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.07 “or other evidence of impairment.”
In New York, it is also illegal for a driver under age 21 to drive with a 0.02 BAC and for a driver of any age to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs.
Signs of a driver’s impairment could include:
- Unusually slow or fast speed
- Weaving or drifting across lanes
- Smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath
- Glassy, bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- The inability to pass a standardized field sobriety test (SFST).
These criminal laws could play an important role in your auto accident case. If the driver who caused your crash is charged and ultimately convicted for a violation of one of these laws, it could constitute negligence per se. In other words, the driver’s negligence would be established as a matter of law.
If your damages go beyond what is covered by no-fault insurance, a finding of negligence per se could help you to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more through the driver’s liability coverage.
However, a driver’s conviction is not necessary to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the driver in New York State. A driver who is found not guilty under criminal law could still be held liable in a civil claim.
Who Can You Sue for a Drunk Driving Accident in New York?
In many drunk driving accident cases, the drunk driver who caused your crash is not the only one who can (and should) be held legally accountable. New York law allows other parties to be sued, or held liable, for the harm you have suffered. These parties include:
- Employer – If the driver was “on the clock,” so to speak, when the accident occurred, you may be able to sue the driver’s employer. This will require showing that the driver was carrying out a business purpose and not engaged in a “frolic and detour” from work duties.
- Bar, restaurant or store – Under New York’s “dram shop” law, anyone who sells alcohol to one who is “actually or apparently” under age 21 (the legal drinking age) or “visibly intoxicated” can be held liable if it can be shown that the sale contributed to the person’s intoxication, and the person’s intoxication in turn caused your accident and injuries.
- Social hosts – New York law also creates liability for anyone who provides or assists a person under age 21 with obtaining alcohol. This is commonly called “social host liability.” As with a dram shop claim, it must be shown that the alcohol contributed to the person’s intoxication, and the person’s intoxication caused a crash that harmed you.
Keep in mind that you can seek a recovery in a drunk driving accident claim from the drunk driver or other parties regardless of whether you were a motorist in another car, a passenger in the drunk driver’s car or a pedestrian or bicyclist on the street.
Punitive Damages in a New York Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit
In many drunk driving accident cases, punitive damages may be sought as well. This is because drunk driving often falls within the type of reckless conduct that punitive damages are designed to punish and deter.
The driver’s high level of intoxication may be evidence that supports a punitive damages award. Another factor may be the driver’s history of DWI convictions or drunk driving accidents. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports, nearly one out of every five drunk drivers who caused a fatal crash during one recent year had a prior DWI conviction.
Contact Our Syracuse or Albany Car Accident Laywers
You can count on the drunk driving accident lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP, to conduct a thorough investigation of your case. We can determine the role that alcohol or drug use played in your crash and identify who should be held responsible. We can also review all insurance policies and available coverage for your damages.
We are a nationally recognized law firm with passion for protecting the rights of car accident victims in Albany, Syracuse and throughout New York State. We can provide a free, in-depth consultation about your case. Don’t wait to take action. Call to speak to our Syracuse or Albany car accident lawyers or contact us online today.
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