Driving while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol has received intense media
and legislative attention for decades. More recently, the impacts of distracted
driving has gained increased attention. As many of us are aware, the fines
and points for using a cell phone while driving have increased.
Kingston car accident attorneys know that there are many ways in which motorists become distracted while
operating a motor vehicle. Drivers visual line of sight may stray from
the road, motorists may take their hands off of the wheel in order to
do something else, and quite simply, drivers will lose focus because they
are mentally preoccupied with other thoughts. These types of distractions
are often generalized as visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. Some
activities may generate all of these types of distractions at the same time.
Updates in Distracted Driving Laws
In the latter half of 2013, the penalties in New York for talking on a
cell phone and for texting and e-mailing while driving were increased.
This is because the number of
car accidents caused by distracted driving has also significantly increased over the years. Drivers will face a five
point violation if convicted for using cell phones, whether texting or
talking, while driving. Moreover, a probationary driver will face a 60
day suspension of driving privileges for his or her first conviction under
the new law. Any subsequent conviction within six months after the license
is restored will lead to a six month revocation of driving privileges.
If the motorist is a junior driver, the same 60 day suspension will apply,
but the subsequent offense penalty is only a 60 day revocation instead
of the six month revocation for the probationary driver. Any other category
of driver will not have to face suspension or revocation; the five point
penalty will only apply.
Car Accidents Caused by Texting While Driving
Recall the types of distractions listed above; visual, manual, and cognitive
distractions. Distracted driving due to cell phone use will implicate
all three of these categories of distractions. As noted above, New York
has increased the penalties for driving while texting.
The specific New York laws are
Vehicle and Traffic Law Sections 1225-c and1225-d. The former creates a rebuttable presumption that the motorist is engaged
in a call if he or she is simply holding the phone within proximity of
the ear and/or mouth. The latter expands the definition of portable electronic
devices to include cell phones and says that use of such is texting, sending
e-mails, receiving e-mails, and other types of electronic data.
Drunk Drivers Causing Car Accidents
No matter what you call it, DWI, DUI, or DWAI, driving under the influence
of alcohol and/or drugs leads to tens of thousands of roadway fatalities
each year due to the
negligence of an intoxicated driver. It is important to stress that driving under the influence is more than
about alcohol consumption; it includes drug use as well, whether it be
legal or illicit drugs.
It is important to keep in mind that while penal laws punish these types
of offenses, victims also have a right to civil recovery. Not only can
victims hold impaired motorists liable, they may also be able to hold
those persons or parties who served or sold the alcohol to the impaired motorist.
Third party liability of this type is what
dram shop liability is all about. Any establishment that serves and/or sells alcoholic beverages
to a minor or a visibly intoxicated person may be held liable for any
subsequent injury caused by the minor and/or intoxicated person.
Drowsy Driving and Falling Asleep at the Wheel
I am sure that you recall from our posts in previous weeks that motorists
must use reasonable care when operating a vehicle as would any other prudent
driver under similar circumstances. This duty exists in order to prevent
unnecessary and foreseeable harm from coming to others.
Falling asleep at the wheel is a breach of the duty to use reasonable care.
In fact, accidents caused by sleeping drivers will create a presumption
that the driver was negligent. Depending on the court in which a civil
suit is commenced, the negligent driver may be able to rebut this presumption
in different ways. Experienced
Kingston personal injury lawyers know how each court within each judicial department in New York treats
these cases. We can represent cases in
Poughkeepsie, and surrounding areas.
Drowsy driving is a breach of the reasonable care standard as well and
holds the same type of civil liability as does falling asleep at the wheel.