By the Numbers: New York Ranks Low in Drunk Driving Offenses

In a recent study of the number of drunk driving offenders in the country's 20 largest cities, New York City ranked 17. According to Insurance.com's data, New York has fewer drunk drivers than major cities in California (San Diego, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Francisco) and Texas (Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth).

What makes New York's numbers lower than these other major cities'? Several factors may be coming into play.

Availability of Public Transportation

New York City is known for its large public transportation system. From subways and buses that run all night, to taxis that are readily available at every corner, people who drink have numerous options for getting home safely.

New York City is a compact area, while a city like Los Angeles is spread out with sparser public transportation. In Los Angeles, a car is practically a necessity; in New York, a car may seem like a liability.

Publicity Surrounding Leandra's Law

The provisions of the Child Passenger Protection Act, also known as Leandra's Law, have gone into effect between late 2009 and mid-2010. Among other DWI penalties, the new law requires every driver who has been convicted of misdemeanor or felony DWI to use an ignition interlock device for at least six months.

The ignition interlock device, installed in the offender's vehicle, measures the driver's blood alcohol level (BAC) before the car can start. The car will only start if no alcohol is detected. The ignition interlock system can cost up to $100 to install and $100 a month to maintain.

It is likely, therefore, that Leandra's Law acts as a deterrent to people who might otherwise drive drunk. Police in New York have been aggressive about making arrests under Leandra's Law. A good deal of reporting has occurred on the subject, which may be helping to prevent drunk driving.

Continuing the Trend

As more DWI arrests are made under Leandra's Law, the numbers for New York City could appear to spike in the future, lowering the city's status on the top-20 list. More stringent enforcement, however, is likely to result in fewer overall DWI offenses and accidents.

If You Have Been Arrested for DWI

An arrest for drunk driving, particularly in New York City or greater New York State, has serious legal consequences. If you've been arrested, speak with an experienced DWI attorney right away to learn about your rights and the potential consequences.