06/03/2015 // 1800 Truck Wreck // (press release)
Authorities have said that a police officer whose nationally publicized fatal wrong-way collision with a tractor-trailer was intoxicated at the time of the incident. The Associated Press recently released a report stating that tests show the officer had a blood alcohol content level that was three times the state’s legal limit.
Source AP Report “DA: Cop behind wheel in wrong-way fatal was drunk”
“A prosecutor says toxicology results show that an off-duty New Jersey officer behind the wheel in a wrong-way crash that killed another officer and a friend on a New York City highway was drunk.”
The report also notes the officer is stated to have a history of prior DUI arrests, one of which led to the suspension of his license. The Motor Vehicle Commission said the suspension following his second arrest began in October 2013 and ended in May of last year. A judge required the officer’s vehicle to be fitted with an ignition interlock, which restricts a vehicle from being started until a driver blows into a device that measures their blood alcohol level and registers them as sober. The device was taken off of the vehicle in September.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that in addition to contributing to a high number of fatalities each year, related economic costs of alcohol impaired related accidents total over approximately $59 billion each year.
Source CDC “Impaired Driving: Get the Facts”
“Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 51 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $59 billion.”
According to statistics from the National Department of Transportation, approximately one-third of all drivers who are arrested or convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol are repeat offenders. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also released data in 2013 stating that more than 1.2 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence in 2011. This suggests that nationally, over an estimated 400,000 drivers arrested for DUI have engaged in the act more than once. The number does not even include drivers who have not been caught getting behind the wheel after consuming drugs or alcohol.
Texas based personal injury attorney Jonathan Harris of the Eberstein Witherite law firm, who has represented numerous clients in cases involving serious injuries caused by drunk drivers, says of the broad issue, “intoxicated driving is a national issue that unfortunately has been extremely challenging to combat. Even with decades of efforts to reduce drunk driving in the U.S. the numbers remain excessive.”
Transportation safety advocates have proposed various measures to reduce instances of drunk driving and repeat DUI/DWI offenses. These include:
Making it a requirement for those who have been convicted of DWI offenses to undergo mandatory assessments for substance abuses and necessary treatment
Taking away the licenses of drivers guilty of driving while intoxicated
The use of sobriety checkpoints
And widespread promotion of initiatives that prompt individuals to engage in safer related driving practices.
Harris also suggests that holding drivers accountable legally for damages caused in these types of accidents also helps deter repeat offenders from engaging in the risky practice. The attorney says, “legal accountability has long been one of the most effective means of helping reduce bad behaviors that numerous drivers repeatedly engage in until they are forced to face the consequences of the law financially.”
Two people were killed in the March 20 alcohol related crash. Investigators have since applied for a warrant for arrest of the police officer.
Eberstein Witherite LLP