Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start of the summer, is a time for fun, family, friends, and food. But after barbequing and beer, your ride home is the most dangerous time to be on the road compared to any other time of the year. Out of all the holidays, the highest number of fatal crashes typically occur during Memorial Day Weekend. Whether you operate a vehicle when you shouldn’t, or you are on the roadway at all, you could be affected by an impaired driver. 

Number of fatal accidents increases during Memorial Day Weekend:

Nassau and Suffolk counties have witnessed an increase in both the number of car accidents and the number of fatal car accidents during Memorial Day Weekend. Naturally, when there is an increase in number people of drinking and amount of alcohol being consumed, there will be an increase in intoxicated and impaired drivers on the roads. Drowsy driving during the holiday weekend may also increase the number of impaired drivers on the road. Even if you make the appropriate arrangements for alternative transportation, you’re sharing the roadway with more impaired drivers than usual.

Drinking and impaired driving:

Never drink and drive. Always be completely sober when operating a vehicle- this includes smoking marijuana and consuming other substances that may impair your ability to drive. Driving while intoxicated (or impaired by any substance) is a crime. Besides the fact that you may seriously injure yourself or others as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol, you could also be arrested. In the past, Suffolk County and Nassau County police departments have increased the number of patrol vehicles and DWI checkpoints to promptly remove drunk drivers from the roadways. If you drink and drive, there is a strong chance you will be pulled over.  And if you are pulled over while intoxicated, you will be arrested. Being arrested for intoxicated driving or impaired driving will surely ruin the Memorial Day Weekend fun. You will be held overnight at the police station and be transported to court the next morning. In the case of a holiday weekend, you could find yourself stuck in jail for an extended period, waiting for a judge to take the bench. Once you’ve seen the judge, you will likely have additional court appearances, lose your driver’s license, and be subject to fines and fees. You may also experience other penalties, such as requiring interlock device installation in your vehicle, court ordered counseling, probation, employment issues, and increased car insurance rates. For more about DWIs, check out our SuperBowl DWI Crackdown blog, which outlines the different charges and sentences: https://toccilaw.com/2018/02/03/super-bowl-dwi-crackdown/ If you’re arrested for a DWI, DUI, DWAI, or other alcohol or substance impairment crime, call us for a free consultation (631) 343-7676.  Upon calling, immediate representation may be arranged.

Despite the above, being arrested for a DWI or impaired driving is the least of your problems if you find yourself in an accident. Causing a fatal accident while under the influence of alcohol or drugs could leave you facing a vehicular manslaughter charge with a sentence of up to 25 years in jail (plus fines and other penalties). You will most likely be battling civil lawsuits for personal injuries you’ve caused. Moreover, if you are injured, your insurance company may not have the obligation to cover your medical treatment under No-Fault.

Traveling as a passenger:

Do not get in the car with a drunk driver. Even though you’re not the individual committing a crime, being in the vehicle exposes you to an unnecessary dangerous and potentially fatal risk. Opt for alternative transportation home or to spend the night where you are. Even if your trip is a short distance, not permitting a drunk driver to drive could prevent an accident, or a friend being arrested. As the adage goes, friends don’t let friends drive drunk.

Memorial Day celebrations span over a three-day weekend. As a result of all the festivities and late hour driving, drivers are more likely to be drowsy. Driving while sleepy is unquestionably dangerous, as the alertness required to drive safely is diminished. Do not get in the car with a drowsy driver and do not drive drowsy. Again, choose an alternative means of transportation or stay put if possible.

The same transportation methods being utilized by too many people may also be dangerous.  Too many passengers cramming into an uber or vehicle with a designated driver may distract the driver and inadequately protect the passengers.  Seatbelts are limited.  Do not get into a vehicle where there are not enough seatbelts. Even if you have a seatbelt, if there are not enough seatbelts for each passenger, if you’re in an accident, you could be exposed to heightened risk.  Do not put children in vehicles that do not have the proper safety seats, even if the travel distance is short.

Drunk passengers may be rowdy and silly. This may distract the driver and potentially cause an accident. Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle to the appropriate amount.

Stay off the roadways:

If possible, stay off the road. Plan for sober and alert transportation to and from your destinations. Try to leave for home before you become over tired. Also try to leave before late hours of the night and early morning, when the number of impaired drivers on the road is highest.

If you have to drive:

Not everyone is able to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend: nurses, doctors, police officers, emergency personnel, retail store employees, etc., may be scheduled to work during typical celebration times. If you are scheduled to work, you may be unable to avoid the roadway. Just because you are sober and alert does not mean that other drivers are. Avoid speeding, wear your seatbelt, follow all traffic laws, and keep a look out for drivers that may be making the roadway unsafe. If you witness a vehicle swerving, traveling on the wrong side of the road, ignoring traffic control devices, call 911. Stay as far away from their vehicle as possible. Do not attempt to pass a driver you suspect may be impaired. Instead, choose to keep your vehicle as far back as possible. If you must pass the vehicle where legally permissible, be vigilant when doing so.

We’re here to help:

If you are injured in an accident for any reason, schedule an appointment with us as soon as you are able. The sooner you hire an attorney, the better your interests are legally protected. We will discuss and explain your rights and options in your situation.

Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C.
(631) 343-7676

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