New York may not be tough enough on DWIs

A new study highlights several areas for improvement when it comes to drunk driving prevention and penalties in New York.

That drunk drivers put innocent people at risk is a fact that no New Yorker can deny. But, just how serious are the risks faced by people in New York? Are New York drivers more or less likely to be at risk of being injured by a drunk driver than people in other states? These are some questions addressed by a study that was recently completed by WalletHub.

New York receives middle-of-the-road ranking

In looking at what barriers New York has erected to prevent first or repeat instances of drunk driving, WalletHub found New York to be number 34 on the list of 51. This list included all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

After evaluating New York's criminal and administrative penalties for people convicted of drunk driving offenses, the study ranked New York number 24 out of the 51 states. That left New York with an overall ranking of 30th place. This rather lackluster showing points to several areas where New York falls behind other parts of the country in cracking down on drunk drivers.

New York's approach to drunk driving

The preventative and punitive actions that New York adopts related to drunk driving are varied. For example, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles explains that drivers convicted of their first DWI offense must pay fines between $500 and $1,000. They may also spend up to 12 months in jail although jail time for a first DWI is not mandatory. Driving privileges will be revoked for at six months following a DWI conviction.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, all impaired offenders must use ignition interlock devices for at least six months or for as long as their driving privileges are revoked. Felony charges will result for second alcohol or drug related vehicle offenses if committed within a decade of first offenses.

New York's drunk driving fatalities

In looking at data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, a sad trend is seen. Fatalities from wrecks involving alcohol continue to plague not only residents of cities such as White Plains and Yonkers in Westchester County, but also residents in Clarkstown and Orangetown in neighboring Rockland County, Between 2011 and 2015, 51 people lost their lives in Westchester County and 25 in Rockland County in alcohol-related crashes.

Across the state, the numbers of drunk driving deaths for those five years were as follows: 328 in 2011; 340 in 2012; 369 in 2013; 312 in 2014; and 311 in 2015.

Victims should always take action

People who have been seriously injured by the negligence of a drunk driver should not just sit back idly and accept it. Talking to a lawyer is recommended for car crash victims seeking compensation.