Alcohol and other drug abuses have no limits. From the infrequent “social drinker” to the person who cannot get through the day without their drug of choice, we see it sadly affect those as young as nine years old, to working moms and dads, to those who have abused substances all their lives. Alcohol is the drug of choice for many abusers, and when it comes to drinking and driving there is no boundary for those involved.
Tragically, almost 10,000 people died in drunk driving-related motor vehicle accidents in 2011. Drunk driving accidents often result in hit-and-run situations, and can leave a victim behind with life-threatening and life-altering injuries—or a family left behind due to death of a loved one. In a recent hit-and-run incident in New York, a man slammed into a taxi carrying a young couple on their way to the hospital where the female was to deliver the couple’s first baby. The motorist who hit the cab had been cited for drunk driving in the past, and was travelling at a high rate of speed at the time of the accident. After he fled on foot, it took authorities days to find him and he eventually turned himself in. This particular man had been cited on several occasions for other incidents in the past. Now, two adult lives are lost, and the unborn baby who was delivered and saved at the scene later died.
What happens to families like this who leave loved ones behind? In some cases, the fault is clear. In other cases, the fault is muddy and confusing. Suppose authorities never found the person who hit the car. Hit-and-run cases can take years for investigators to find the one who caused the accident. In many states, the initial sentence for drinking and driving is mandatory jail time, not to mention several other fines and penalties if someone is seriously injured or dies. What are some questions you will need answered when you speak with your New York attorney for the first time?
- Had the driver of the car who caused the accident been cited on other occasions?
- What was the blood alcohol level of the person involved?
- Was that person of legal drinking age?
- What types of injuries were sustained in the crash?
- Were there other obvious faults in the accident? Did someone run a red light, fail to stop, or drive on the wrong side of the road?
- Were there distractions such as other kids in the car, texting, or talking on a cell?
- Was everyone involved wearing a seatbelt? In a recent case in Arizona, a family of four was involved in an alcohol-related accident. The mother who was driving was not wearing her seatbelt and was driving under the influence of alcohol. She died. The others who were wearing seatbelts survived with minor injuries.
Questions like this and others will be investigated by your attorney and it will be in your best interest to write down and communicate everything you can remember about the incident. Penalties for drunk driving are high, and there is a way to have justice served if you were injured or know someone who died because of an alcohol-related car accident.
Accidents involving drunk drivers always leave several families saddened by the incident. As unpredictable and sudden as it is to be hit by a vehicle driven by someone under the influence, following some of the steps above can ensure a better future for the families left behind.