Study Shows Drunk Driving Remains A Serious Public Safety Concern, New York Attorney Says

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Binghamton personal injury lawyer Scott C. Gottlieb says a recent NHTSA study showing that as many as eight percent of all drivers have driven drunk during the past year highlights the need for more enforcement and education about the consequences of impaired driving.

People need to realize that when you get behind the wheel impaired, you endanger the health and safety of yourself and others, and you expose yourself to criminal charges and a lawsuit if you cause property damage or bodily injury.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a study this week showing that eight percent of all drivers, or as many as 17 million people, have driven drunk at least once during the past year.

The study highlights the need for more measures to be taken to get drunk drivers off the road and for more education about the serious criminal and civil consequences of impaired driving, says Binghamton, New York personal injury attorney Scott C. Gottlieb.

“The study indicates a disturbing trend, and the only way to reverse that trend is to get the message across to people that drinking and driving is a dangerous and costly combination,” says Gottlieb, whose law firm, Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney, represents victims of car accidents throughout New York’s Upstate Region.

“People need to realize that when you get behind the wheel impaired, you endanger the health and safety of yourself and others, and you expose yourself to criminal charges and a lawsuit if you cause property damage or bodily injury,” Gottlieb says.

According to the NHTSA “National Survey of Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behaviors,” four out of five people identified drunk driving as a “major threat” to their own and their family’s safety.

Yet, the survey also revealed that about one in five Americans within the past year have driven within two hours of drinking alcohol. About two-thirds of these drivers, or 13 percent of the total population age 16 and older, had done so in the past 30 days.

According to the survey, those results meant that an estimated 85.5 million past-month drinking-driving trips had occurred nationally, which was up from 73.7 million reported in a 2004 NHTSA survey.

Among 21-24 year olds, the average alcohol consumption was more than four drinks per sitting.

“If you drink beer, wine or liquor, or if you use any type of impairing substance, it instantly impacts your ability to effectively operate a car or motorcycle,” Gottlieb says, pointing out that nearly 12,000 people are killed each year in the U.S. in alcohol-related crashes. “It’s negligence – plain and simple -- and as a result of that negligence, families’ lives can be destroyed.”

Gottlieb said he was encouraged by the state of New York’s tougher stance against impaired driving, such as the Child Passenger Protection Act, or “Leandra’s Law,” which took effect August 15.

Under the law, ignition interlock devices must be installed in the cars of all people convicted of drunk driving, including first-time offenders. The device prevents a car from being started if the driver blows into an attached breathalyzer device and registers a blood alcohol concentration of .025 or higher.

The law, named after a child killed in an October 2009 accident involving a drunk driver, also imposes stricter penalties on those convicted of DWIs who were driving passengers under 15 years of age.

In addition to criminal measures, Gottlieb said that personal injury lawsuits compensate drunk-driving accident victims and their families and, hopefully, deter people from driving while impaired.

“Drunk drivers can be held liable for property damage, pain and suffering, disfigurement, medical expenses, funeral costs, lost wages and lost earning capacity as well as punitive damages,” Gottlieb says. “Clearly, the consequences of impaired driving are tragic for everyone involved.”

About Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney, handles all types of personal injury and medical malpractice cases, including cases involving drunk-driving accidents, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, cancer misdiagnosis, dog bites, hunting accidents, birth injuries, brain injuries, construction accidents, fall down injuries and insurance settlements. The firm regularly employs accident reconstruction experts, investigators, photographers and economists to assist us in evaluating and preparing personal injury cases. The firm features offices in Binghamton, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse and Watertown. For more information, call (607) 724-7700 or use the firm’s online contact form.

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