It should be understood by now that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an extremely bad idea. And yet, the rate of automobile accidents caused by someone driving while intoxicated continues to hold steady. The law in New York state reflects a growing impatience with this state of affairs, as the stiff penalties even for a first offense may be a shock. Conversely, if you are hit by a drunk driver, you may have a better chance in New York than in other states to be appropriately compensated in court.
Types of Violations
New York breaks down the standard Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) into more specific categories, so a more appropriate sentence for each crime can be imposed. The specifications, as set out by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, are:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). This is the standard that most people think of. If you have higher than a .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or show other evidence of intoxication, you can be booked on this charge. This can be problematic depending on the police officer; it is not unheard of for “other evidence of intoxication” to be applied very loosely.
- Aggravated DWI. This is the same as DWI, except with a BAC of .18 or higher. Such a high BAC implies reckless disregard for the safety of other people on the road.
- Driving While Ability Impaired By Alcohol (DWAI/Alcohol). This is a less serious offense than DWI, with a requirement that your BAC be between .05 and .07, or that you show other evidence of impairment. The requirements are similar for Driving While Ability Impaired By A Single Drug (DWAI/Drug) or Driving While Ability Impaired By A Combination of Substances (DWAI/Combination).
- Chemical Test Refusal. If you refuse a breathalyzer or other chemical test, you can be charged with this.
- Zero Tolerance Law. If you are under 21 and are stopped while driving with a BAC of between .02 and .07, this law applies. Youth DWI is a very real problem, and zero tolerance laws have been shown to help cut down on the practice.
Any and all of these violations can result in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license – even as a first offense, as well as significant fines and required drunk driver classes. If you are a commercial driver, the consequences are even more severe – you are considered in violation if your BAC is .04 or higher. This is generally because commercial drivers are in control of far larger vehicles, with far more ability to cause a serious accident, and they must be in top shape while operating that vehicle.
Consequences In Court
If you are struck by a drunk driver, you are generally able to use that fact in court to make your task as a plaintiff much easier. Normally, to prove someone civilly liable for your injuries in a car accident, you normally must make the case that they were negligent. Negligence involves proving four elements: (1) a legal duty of care owed to you by the other driver; (2) a breach of that duty; (3) that the other driver’s actions were the cause of your injuries; and (4) actual damages to you.
Drunk driving involves the breaking of one or more laws. In New York, if someone breaks a law that is clearly designed to protect the public or a certain class of people, it constitutes negligence per se. Negligence per se means that negligence does not have to be proved by the plaintiff – as it normally would in court – because the breaking of the statute constitutes negligence in itself.
Contact A DWI Attorney For Help
Whether you are facing a DWI charge, or you have been hit by a drunk driver, it is often best to bring a professional in. The New York Lawyers have skilled DWI attorneys, with years of experience fighting for your rights. Contact our offices today for a free initial consultation.