December Is Impaired Driving Awareness Month: What You Should Know

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December is the season of lights, packed with festive events, parties, and celebrations meant to mark the holiday season. While it may be one of the year’s most joyous and festive months, it can also be one of the most tragic times. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates in one recent year, nearly 11,654 people killed were in drunk driving accidents nationwide – an epidemic that peaks during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Since December is Impaired Driving Awareness Month, Finz & Finz, P.C. wants to help you understand the impact impaired driving has on New Yorkers. We also want to provide practical steps you can take this holiday season to keep you and your family safe heading into the New Year.

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month 

 In 2011, President Barack Obama proclaimed December National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. The effort came as a recommitment to keeping streets safe, especially during the holidays, and a reminder that drugs and alcohol can take a devastating toll on the families left behind after a senseless tragedy. Over a decade later, National Impaired Driving Prevention Month continues to help raise awareness during the busy holiday season, reminding drivers to stay safe and take personal responsibility for their safety and the safety of others. 

 According to the most recent National Impaired Driving Prevention Month Proclamation issued by the White House, nearly one-third of fatal car accidents in America involve alcohol. Raising awareness means educating the public on the risks of driving while impaired and the potential consequences of causing an impaired driving accident. 

How You Can Prevent an Impaired Driving Accident During the Holidays?

 There are proactive steps you can take this December to keep your family safe on New York roads and help prevent impaired driving accidents. Here’s what you should know about preventing an impaired driving crash.

Take the Subway or Buses If Possible

Even as ridership remains down relative to its pre-pandemic levels, New York’s public transit system is still the most robust in the nation. If you’re in an area well-served by the MTA, the subway and bus systems offer a reliable and affordable way to get to your destination and back home safely.

Designate a Sober Driver

The holidays are a time for celebration. However, if your celebration entails car travel, it should also include a sober driver. If you are going to consume alcohol or recreational cannabis at a holiday party, event, or family gathering, make sure you designate a sober driver for the trip home in advance. If you don’t have a sober driver, never get behind the wheel of your car. There are other options available that can help you make it home safely. Taxis and ride-sharing services can get you home if you are too buzzed to drive. Around the holidays, some organizations and businesses provide free transportation services to individuals who can’t make it home safely on their own. 

Make Arrangements in Advance

Don’t want to worry about finding a ride home after a holiday celebration? Planning can go a long way toward keeping you and others safe during the holidays. Plan to stay with family or friends if you know you’ll take full advantage of grandma’s homemade eggnog or holiday punch. Many businesses and organizations host their holiday gatherings in hotel ballrooms and convention centers. Consider securing a hotel room for the night if you plan on drinking at a work function or holiday party. 

Limit Holiday Driving

Already crowded New York streets can feel even more packed during the holidays. If you don’t have to be on the roads, don’t. Try to limit your holiday travel, especially during peak drunk driving hours. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that most drunk driving crashes occur late at night and in the early morning hours. These are the times of day when bars are closing and holiday parties start to wind down. 

Take Care of Your Guests

If you host a gathering for family and friends, be a good host. Don’t let your guests engage in risky behavior. If you notice a loved one drinking to excess or consuming cannabis, offer to call them a ride or let them stay at home until it is safe for them to drive. Your actions can make a difference in protecting New York drivers this December.

Consequences of Impaired Driving: What You Need to Know 

There are numerous driving while intoxicated laws in New York, including DWI, alcohol-DWAI, drug-DWAI, and aggravated DWI. In New York, it is possible to be convicted for driving while impaired even without a chemical test. The testimony of law enforcement concerning observations made about how a person drives, behaves, or looks may be enough to prove impaired driving in some cases.

Below are some of the legal consequences for conviction on the most common drunk driving charges.

DWAI – Driving While Ability Impaired 

DWAI comes in two forms: alcohol-DWAI and drug-DWAI. Motorists impaired by drugs or alcohol to any extent can face:

  • Fines between $300 to $500
  • Up to 15 days in jail
  • 90-day driver’s license suspension

DWAI-Combination – Driving While Ability Impaired 

DWAI-combination offenses mean that a driver was allegedly operating a vehicle while impaired by a combination of alcohol and drugs. Individuals convicted of a first-offense DWAI combination can face the following:

  • Fines between $500 to $1,000
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Minimum six-month driver’s license revocation

DWI

Driving while intoxicated means operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher or while exhibiting other signs of intoxication. Potential penalties for a first-offense DWI conviction can include the following:

  • Fines between $500 to $1,000
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Minimum six-month driver’s license revocation

Aggravated DWI

An aggravated DWI charge involves operating a vehicle with a BAC of .18% or higher or driving while impaired with a passenger under the age of 15. Penalties can include:

  • Fines between $1,000 to $2,500
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Minimum one-year driver’s license revocation

There are additional penalties involved with driving while impaired, like an increase in your insurance premiums, the loss of your driving privileges, and legal fees, not to mention the lifelong knowledge your actions seriously injured or killed another person. Raising awareness of the significant consequences that come from impaired driving can help put things in perspective and help prevent people from making poor choices.

Finz & Finz, P.C. Is Here to Help 

Were you injured in a car accident involving an impaired driver? Let the New York drunk driving injury lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C. help you pursue the compensation you deserve. With over $1 billion in verdicts and settlements to our credit, we have the resources and experience to help you demand the money you need and hold an impaired driver accountable for their actions. 

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.