Drunk driving is a leading cause of serious and even fatal motor vehicle crashes within the state of New York and throughout the country. When drivers are intoxicated, they put their own safety in jeopardy and they put others at risk of being hurt as well. It is important to make a determination regarding whether a driver is impaired at the time an accident happens in order to fully understand the crash cause.
If a driver is drunk, he or she could face criminal prosecution. Victims of a collision with a drunk driver could also work with a New York City car accident law firm to hold the intoxicated motorist accountable for serious injuries the driver may have caused.
Now, thanks to a new bill put in place, law enforcement officers responding to a crash scene will be better able to make use of tools to determine if a driver was intoxicated at the time an accident occurred. The Democrat and Chronicle reported on the new policy being put into place to help crack down on drunk drivers.
New York to Test Drivers for Intoxication After Serious Crashes
According to the Democrat and Chronicle, the new policy to crack down on drunk drivers was signed into law in December and was ordered to take effect within 30 days of the law being signed.
The new law expands the responsibilities of police officers who are first responders to the scene of a motor vehicle accident if the collision either caused a serious injury or caused a death. Now, among the responsibilities that police have as they investigate the cause of the accident is a responsibility to assess whether the driver was in violation of state traffic law or not.
When police get to a crash scene, they are expected under the terms of the new law to ask drivers to take a field sobriety assessment (FSA) if the police suspect that the driver broke the rules. The police must have “reasonable grounds” to believe the driver violated state laws in New York related to drunk driving.
Reasonable grounds does not mean the police officer knows beyond a shadow of doubt that the driver is drunk, but it does mean that there needs to be some justification for the officer insisting the driver take a field sobriety test. If a driver refuses to take a FSA when asked to do so, the Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend that driver’s license.
Under the previous rules related to field sobriety testing, the laws in New York stipulated that it was up to the discretion of the officer to determine if a person should be tested for impairment. The new rule simplifies and streamlines the system and ensures that drivers don’t simple evade the law when a death or a serious injury happens.
According to New York State Senator Pamela Helming, who was one of the bill’s sponsors, indicated that” “Individuals need to be held accountable for their choices, especially when it leads to the death or serious injury of someone else.” Helming also warned: “Eliminating loopholes in the current law that allow drivers under the influence to escape prosecution at the expense of someone else’s life is a start.”
With new evidence available to demonstrate intoxication after serious accidents, victims should be better able to pursue claims for compensation against those who caused collisions while drunk. A New York City car accident law firm can provide help to victims in taking action.