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Government uses highway safety funds for strict drunk driving laws

Motorists in Saratoga County know how dangerous drunken drivers can be. There are statistics about drunken driving, fatal accidents caused by driving while intoxicated and the efforts to protect innocent New York motorists from these careless drivers that bombard people in upstate New York all the time, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now has federal highway safety funds that can be used to encourage states to pass even stricter drunken driving laws.

There are some states that have very stringent laws when it comes to first time drunken drivers. New York, like 16 other states, requires anyone who has been criminally convicted of DWI to install an ignition interlock device in his or her car. An ignition interlock requires a car's operator to take a breath test before he or she tries to start the car. If his or her blood alcohol content is too high, the car will not start. Several devices also require the driver to take breath tests regularly during a trip.

The federal government would like to see that law spread to other states. The idea is that fatal drunken driving accidents are four times more likely to have been caused by people with DWI convictions than first-time offenders. Encouraging other states to pass first-time-offender laws could significantly reduce the number of fatal accidents.

When someone is injured by a drunk driver, the driver will likely be charged with and tried for driving while intoxicated. Though these criminal charges will likely provide some sense of closure to an accident victim, it is often important to receive compensation for the costs associated with a crash. Using a personal injury lawsuit will help to put victims back to where they were before the accident.

Source: Washington Post, "Federal officials push for tougher state drunken-driving laws," Ashley Halsey III, Aug. 14, 2012

If you want to learn more about our work with victims of drunken driving accidents, please visit our website.

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