A young woman hit and killed a bicyclist in Brooklyn with her four-year old daughter in the car. Charges for this offense are steep including manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, aggravated driving while intoxicated (DWI), acting in a manner injuries to a minor child, driving while intoxicated and driving while ability impaired (DWAI) by alcohol. The charges for DWI and DWAI are different, in New York, you get charged with a DWI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher. If your BAC is at .08 or higher, this means that you are legally drunk in New York. DWI is a criminal charge because a person operated a vehicle while over the legal limit of alcohol consumption. If a driver has a BAC between .05 and .07 the charge will be DWAI and considered a traffic infraction so the ability to plea down charges is a possibility.
U.S. deaths increased by DWI.
Approximately 30 people die in alcohol-related driving accidents in the United States as a daily occurrence. NYPD data revealed that citywide traffic fatalities are 17% higher than they were in 2018. Almost one third of U.S. traffic crash deaths involved drivers who were under the influence of alcohol at levels of .08 g/dL or higher, and alcohol-related accidents were still increased by impaired drivers with lower alcohol levels.
Drunk driving laws make it illegal nationwide to drive with a BAC at or above 0.08%. For people under 21, “zero tolerance” laws make it illegal to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. These laws, along with laws that maintain the minimum legal drinking age at 21, are in place in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and have had a clear effect on highway safety, saving tens of thousands of lives, but further action is still necessary. In New York, driving while ability impaired is a traffic offense and the BAC is lower but the danger to driving still exists.
The driver may not be the only to be sued in a drunk driving accident: if the driver was visibly intoxicated when she bought alcohol at a bar, restaurant or store right before an accident, they could be sued under New York’s Dram Shop Act.
Punitive damages may be sought after because of the egregious nature of drunk driving causing death. Personal assets will be attached for punitive damages in New York because insurance companies are not required to pay those types of damages.
Criminal and civil action.
There is an overlap in cases that involve drunk driving because there may be a criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit, and if the driver is found guilty in the criminal case it can strengthen the civil case, because negligence per se has been proven since the act was against the law. The negligence would need to support a claim in New York because it is a no fault state, and the loss of a loved one would fall under non-economic losses.
Hire an attorney.
If you have caused a wrongful death while DWI in New York, contact an experienced criminal law attorney at The Greenberg Law Firm for a free case evaluation to discuss legal options available to you to minimize jail time and penalties.
The Greenberg Law Firm
139 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201