New York City Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
Representing Drunk Driving Accident Victims in All Five Boroughs
Each year, thousands – if not millions – of car accidents happen across the country due to the negligence of drunk drivers. If you were hit by a drunk driver in New York City recently, then it can feel like you’re down on your luck and out of options, especially if you listen to the driver’s auto insurance provider. To get yourself back on track, call (718) 690-3132 and speak with an NYC drunk driving accident attorney from Koenigsberg & Associates Law Offices. We can assist you with all parts of your claim, including initial investigations, settlement negotiations, and courtroom litigation.
Legal Intoxication in New York
When someone operates a vehicle with too much alcohol in their system, they are “legally intoxicated,” which sounds contradictory because it is illegal to drive while legally intoxicated. Each state has different legal limits for drivers. If the driver who hit you can be charged with a crime for being legally intoxicated to some extent, then it could help prove that they are liable for your damages.
In New York, drivers are legally intoxicated at these blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels:
- 0.05 to 0.07: A driver who has a BAC level within this range and who shows signs of impairment while driving can be charged with driving while ability impaired (DWAI).
- 0.08: A driver with a BAC level at this level or higher can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI).
- 0.18 and up: A driver who has a BAC level of this level can be charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated (ADWI).
Additionally, a driver under the age of 21 who has a BAC level at or above 0.02 can be charged with DWAI, even if they are not showing signs of impairment. This rule is part of New York’s “zero tolerance law” for underage drinking and driving, even though it can excuse underaged drinkers with a BAC level below 0.02 but above 0.00.
How Intoxication Affects a Driver
Drinking and driving do not mix. There is no safe way to have “just one drink” and then drive shortly afterward. Alcohol impairs the body in a variety of ways and within minutes of consuming it. The more alcohol that is consumed, the worse the driver will become intoxicated and impaired.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol affects drivers by:
- Impairing judgment: While intoxicated, a driver’s ability to react to new situations and emergencies is dulled. Judging distance and speed becomes extremely difficult, sharply increasing the risk of getting into an accident, even when approaching stopped traffic.
- Impacting vision: Intoxication impacts the eyes’ ability to focus and follow moving objects. Some people will even lose color distinction while drunk, which means that noticing the differences between green, yellow, and red lights becomes a challenge.
- Slowing reaction time: Thinking processes slow down while the brain is under the effects of alcohol. When presented with a crisis, a drunk driver will take far longer to react than a sober driver.
- Worsening motor control: Moderate to heavy intoxication can make an individual feel like their body is “loose” or “floating.” This strange feeling makes motor control – the control of one’s own muscles and joints – difficult, so swerving while driving becomes more likely.
Importantly, the NHTSA notes that the noticeable effects of alcohol on the mind and body can begin at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level as low as 0.02. Most people will have this BAC level after just one drink. If the driver who hit you said they “only had one drink” before the accident, then please make a note of it or try to record it. That statement alone could help us completely undermine their defense and put all liability on them for your serious injuries.
Do Insurance Companies Still Cover Drunk Drivers?
Insurance companies are responsible to pay for the damages caused by their policyholders, even when that policyholder was committing a crime. In other words, if a driver was intoxicated behind the wheel and knew they were too drunk to drive safely, then they are still covered by their auto insurance policy. If you were hit by a drunk driver, then you can still file against their insurance provider for the damages owed to you, assuming that you were injured severely enough to surpass New York’s PIP insurance requirement.
Who Pays for Punitive Damages?
When a defendant has committed an act of egregious negligence or intentional wrongdoing, punitive damages can be factored into the injury claims brought against them. Punitive damages are designed to punish them directly for knowingly putting others in danger. Drivers who cause an accident while they have a steep BAC level are sometimes ordered to pay punitive damages to the people they hurt.
Although, not all drunk drivers are ordered to pay punitive damages because many of them cannot. Insurance companies only pay for economic and non-economic damages; they do not pay for punitive damages because the insurance company shouldn’t be punished for the terrible judgment call made by its policyholder. As such, if the defendant can’t afford to pay punitive damages, then the court might not agree with ordering them. Our attorneys can help you understand punitive damages further and whether or not it is worth fighting for them in your drunk driving accident claim.
New York Dram Shop Law
In New York, drunk driving accident victims may be able to seek compensation from the drunk driver who hit them and the party that gave that driver alcohol. The state’s dram shop laws allow you to sue an alcohol vendor who serves alcohol to someone who is “visibly intoxicated” or who is underage. If the person who was unlawfully provided alcohol causes a car accident later that day or night, then the alcohol vendor could be partially liable for the victim’s damages.
Alcohol vendors can include various businesses, such as:
- Convenience stores
- Grocery stores
- Music venues
New York also has a social host liability law, but it is more limited. Under this law, social hosts can be partially liable if they knowingly gave alcohol to an underage driver who later causes a crash. Social hosts cannot be liable for a drunk driver who is 21 or older, even if they give that person alcohol when they appear visibly intoxicated.
Criminal Evidence in Drunk Driving Accident Claims
Drunk driving accident cases can be backed by all types of evidence, such as what you would normally collect and use in a typical car accident case. However, another unique source of evidence that could help with your claim exists because you were hit by a drunk driver: criminal evidence. You aren’t the only party that wants to bring justice against the drunk driver. The state will try to prosecute them as well, and the evidence they use could be beneficial to your case that is handled in the separate civil courts.
Criminal evidence that might prove useful to your case include:
- Field sobriety test (FST) results
- BAC test results
- Police officer reports and statements
- Courtroom evidence
- Judge or jury’s decision to convict
- Sentencing details
Thanks to our far-reaching reputation, we can network with law enforcement departments and criminal justice professionals across the five boroughs. If they have evidence that can benefit your case, then we can look into it for you.
Turn Your Case into a Winner – Call Us Now
Our New York City drunk driving accident lawyers are here to support you however we can after a devastating crash. You deserve maximum compensation from the drunk driver who hit you, and we know how to pursue it.