Newark Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
A 19-year-old student home from college was killed near Newark in an accident that was caused by a suspected drunk driver. The accident occurred late on a Saturday night; the young woman was traveling with her sister when a vehicle reportedly crossed the double yellow lines and struck their vehicle head-on. The young woman, who was driving, died at the scene. Her 15-year-old sister survived.
The driver who allegedly caused the accident tried to flee the scene but was arrested. The deceased young woman had just finished her freshman year at MIT, having received a full-ride scholarship to attend the school.
According to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, more than 10,000 people in the United States are killed each year due to alcohol-related traffic crashes. Each year, over one million impaired drivers are arrested across the country. However, for every drunk driver that is taken off the streets, hundreds more are never caught. Many drunk driving accidents are caused by repeat offenders.
If you were injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you should determine your eligibility to seek compensation through a personal injury claim with the help of an experienced Newark personal injury lawyer at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP—a firm with proven results. Please note that prior results cannot guarantee future outcomes.
The Dangers of Drinking and Driving
Alcohol impairment is a contributing factor to more than a quarter of all traffic-related fatalities in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drunk driving is especially risky for younger drivers, whose inexperience combined with impairment significantly increases the likelihood of getting into an accident. While the number of fatalities resulting from drunk driving accidents has decreased in the past couple of decades, impaired driving still results in a death every 48 minutes, an injury every two minutes, and economic impacts to society of $44 billion a year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes.
The economic impacts to society include:
- Lost productivity
- Workplace losses
- Legal and court expenses
- Medical costs
- Emergency medical services
- Insurance administration
- Traffic congestion
- Property damage
When quality of life costs are factored as a loss to society, the price tag for the societal costs of drunk driving jump up to more than $201 billion. Some of the other dangers of drinking and driving include:
- Danger to children. More than 200 children died in one recent year from alcohol-related car accidents.
- Alcohol-related traffic crashes are highest in the summer months of July, August, and September. Alcohol-impaired traffic accidents also increase during the winter holiday season.
- Alcohol-related crashes are more prevalent at night, when 70 percent of fatal accidents involving alcohol occur.
- The vast majority of alcohol-related traffic accidents occur on non-interstate roads.
- In New Jersey, 20 percent of fatal accidents in one recent year featured an alcohol-impaired driver.
- Around one-quarter of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal accidents had previously recorded license suspensions or revocations. Nearly a quarter of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal accidents had previously recorded speeding convictions.
Teen Drinking and Driving: A Deadly Combination
A 17-year-old driver was allegedly driving home drunk from a sleepover at a friend’s house when she slammed her car into an 80-year-old pedestrian. The pedestrian was transported to the hospital in critical condition. The teen reportedly fled the scene, and about a half-hour later, she was allegedly involved in a second crash at an intersection.
Upon arrest, the teen reportedly stated that she had consumed five sparkling alcoholic seltzers in the hours before she left the party. However, police say they believe that she had actually consumed more alcohol. The teen was held on a $30,000 bond, and her uncle was ticketed $500 for violating the county’s social host law.
The rates of teen drinking and driving have been cut in half since the early 1990s. However, alcohol-impaired teenage drivers continue to pose risks to themselves, their friends, and other people on the roadway. One in ten high school students drinks and drives. Young drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 are 17 times more likely to die in a car accident if their BAC is 0.08 percent or higher than teens who are not impaired by alcohol.
More points on the dangers of teenage drinking and driving include:
- While teens are less likely to drive drunk than adults, teens have a substantially higher risk of becoming involved in fatal traffic accidents when they do.
- Teen drivers are less likely to use safety restraints (seat belts) when they have been drinking.
- Those most often killed in accidents caused by an alcohol-impaired teenage driver are the teens themselves and their passengers.
- Alcohol has an enhanced effect on the developing teenage brain, producing lingering deficits in the ability to pay attention and memory.
- Teens already lack some of the developmental abilities required for safe driving, including the ability to properly scan the roadway for hazards. Alcohol further reduces this ability.
New Jersey features a lower legal limit when it comes to teens and drunk driving. Anyone under the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.01 to 0.08 percent can be convicted of a DWI charge. Teens are subject to a license suspension even on the first offense, and they may be required to undergo alcohol education, complete 15 to 30 days of community service, and pay fees and fines related to the conviction.
Levels of Impairment
A person’s level of impairment is measured by the content of alcohol present in his or her blood or breath (BAC). Even one drink impacts one’s ability to drive. A standard drink in the United States is 12 ounces of beer with 5 percent alcohol content; eight ounces of a malt liquor drink with a 7 percent alcohol content; five ounces of wine with a 12 percent alcohol content; or 1.5 ounces (a shot) of hard liquor with a 40 percent alcohol content. The level of impairment and its effects are as follows:
- BAC of 0.02 percent, which is equal to about two drinks, causes some loss in judgment, as well as a decline in visual functions required for tracking a moving target and the ability of a driver to perform two tasks at the same time.
- BAC of 0.05 percent, which is equal to about three drinks, results in exaggerated behavior, difficulty focusing the eyes, impaired judgment, release of inhibition, and lowered alertness. A driver with this level of impairment will experience reduced coordination, reduced ability to track objects, difficulty steering, and reduced ability to properly respond to emergency driving situations.
- BAC of 0.08 percent, which is equal to about four drinks and the legal limit to drive for most American adults, causes impacts, such as poor muscle control, difficulty detecting danger, and impairment of judgment, memory, reasoning, and self-control. Drivers with this level of impairment will have difficulty with concentration, experience short-term memory loss, have a hard time controlling their speed, impaired perception, and the reduced ability to process information.
- BAC of 0.10 percent, which is equal to about five drinks, will result in clear deterioration in reaction time and control, slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking. Drivers with a BAC of 0.10 percent will likely have a hard time maintaining lane position and braking appropriately.
- BAC of 0.15 percent, which is about seven drinks, will create a major loss of balance and significantly reduced muscle control, and may also cause the individual to vomit. Drivers with this level of impairment will have substantial difficulty controlling their vehicles, paying attention to the task of driving, and significant deficits to visual and auditory information processing abilities.
These impacts and impairment levels are calculated for a 160-pound male. It should be noted that the impacts of impairment vary based on gender, weight, and whether the person is a frequent drinker.
New Jersey’s Laws Regarding Drinking and Driving
In December 2019, new laws regarding drinking and driving went into effect in New Jersey. The provisions of these laws include:
- No suspension of a driver’s license for first-time offenders who had a BAC below 0.15 percent. First-time offenders with a BAC of 0.15 percent or more will still lose their license for four to six months.
- Once convicted, drivers will have to place an interlock device in their vehicles and blow into it every time they want to drive. First-time offenders with a BAC of under 0.15 percent will be required to use the interlock for at least three months. Repeat offenders and those with a high BAC will be required to use the device for a longer period of time, up to 15 months.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy stated upon signing the legislation that interlock devices are a common-sense solution. Driver’s license suspensions are an imperfect method of dealing with drunk driving, as they don’t stop the driver from getting behind the wheel of a car, but they prevent previous offenders from being able to drive to work and live productive lives.
Recently, it was reported that conviction rates for drinking and driving had slipped from 85 percent to 71 percent in the previous ten years. In that same time, the number of case dismissals had doubled to 24 percent by 2017. Some of the reasons for this decline in conviction rates include:
- More drivers being convicted of drugged driving
- Drivers pleading guilty to another charge, such as reckless driving, which avoids some of the consequences experienced with DWI convictions. While plea deals are prohibited in DWI cases, this arrangement is referred to as an alternative disposition.
- Defense lawyers who are more skilled at defending their clients against breathalyzer results.
- A Supreme Court ruling that prevents police from testing the blood of suspected drunk drivers without consent or a warrant.
Don’t Be a Statistic
Driving involves risk for everyone. You cannot control the actions of other drivers. However, you can avoid becoming the drunk driver in statistical scenarios by following the tips listed below:
- Before drinking, designate a non-drinking driver in your social group who is willing to ensure that others arrive home safely.
- Don’t let your friends drive while impaired. If you see an impaired driver and you haven’t been drinking, be willing to provide a safe ride.
- If you drink, don’t drive home for any reason. If you’re unable to get a ride from a sober friend, arrange for a rideshare or taxi.
- If you’re hosting a party that involves alcohol, ensure that those who are drinking either have a designated sober driver or that keys are surrendered, and you should allow your guests to stay over and sleep off the festivities before going home.
- Always wear your seat belt, as it provides your strongest protection against the acts of a drunk driver.
- If you see someone who appears to be drunk while driving, contact law enforcement. Doing so could save someone’s life. Signs of drunk driving include quick acceleration or deceleration, tailgating, weaving, driving in areas not made for motor vehicles, almost striking an object, curb, or vehicle, erratic braking, signals that are inconsistent with driving actions, slow response to traffic signals, driving without headlights at night, swerving, driving at least 10 miles an hour below the speed limit, turning abruptly or illegally, or driving on the wrong side of the road.
- Talk to your teens about not drinking and driving. Remember that they often pattern their behaviors after your own, so don’t engage in drinking and driving or trivialize it when talking to your teens.
- Provide sober spaces for teen activities in your home and always monitor teen activities in your home to prevent your teens from drinking.
- Let your teens know that you’re always available to pick them up from a function where they, or others, are drinking. Remind them regularly to never get into the car with a drunk driver.
Injured by a Drunk Driver in Newark? Call Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, Now
If you were injured in an accident that a drunk driver caused, an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can help you understand your legal options for recovering damages. Call us today at (973) 643-2707 or use our online contact form.