Articles Posted in DWI/Criminal

In 2012, a Long Island man, Daniel Sajewski, rammed his father’s red Mercedes-Benz through a Huntington house, narrowly missing the two elderly sisters that lived in the residence. Sajewski was, perhaps predictably, intoxicated – blowing an off-the-chart 0.30 on a breathalyzer, far exceeding New York’s 0.08 limit. In addition to losing their belongings (including a wedding band that could not be located in the rubble), the car accident left the two 90-year-old sisters homeless for several months. In 2013, the judge sentenced Sajewski to one-and-a-half years to three years in prison.

More recently, State Farm, who insured the house that was destroyed, has decided to pursue legal action against Sajewski’s father, the owner of the vehicle. State Farm is seeking $180,000 from the father to reimburse it for the money spent on repairing the home. State Farm is able to pursue this claim because, under New York law, the owner of a vehicle is liable for the damages caused by its drivers – so long as the driver has the owner’s permission to operate the vehicle.  According to the statute, the permission can be expressly stated or implied.

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Almost 15 million Americans admit they drive while under the influence of marijuana, according to a new study by AAA. The alarming news does not end with the sky-high number of impaired drivers, either. Millennials (25 to 39 years old) were most likely to get high before driving, followed closely by Generation Z (under 24 years old). While unsurprising given their age, AAA correctly notes that the majority of stoned drivers are also the most inexperienced – a dangerous combination. The survey also showed that drug-impaired drivers appear unconvinced of its danger and unconcerned with its harsh legal consequences. In fact, Americans surveyed by AAA said that texting and driving posed a greater hazard on the road than pot-impaired drivers.

Despite evidence to the contrary, stoned drivers say that pot does not lead to unsafe driving. The study also reported that a full 13 percent of stoned drivers describe their illegal habit as only ‘slightly dangerous’ or ‘not dangerous’ at all. Despite the perception of their cognitive abilities, evidenced-backed research shows significant impairments in a driver’s ability while under the influence of cannabis. Marijuana impairs motor coordination, reaction time, and personal judgment. Unsurprisingly, an impaired driver is a dangerous one. Stoned drivers are almost twice as likely to be in a car accident than their sober counterparts.

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A recent study suggests that marijuana use may cause fatal car accidents. The study, released by JAMA Internal Medicine, found there were more fatalities and car accidents on April 20, a “holiday” of sorts for cannabis enthusiasts, compared to the same period of time a week beforehand and a week afterward. This study comes on the heels of an increasing push by legislators and public policy experts to determine the effects of marijuana on driving habits, and consequently, to establish an objective standard for measuring intoxication by the drug.

To measure the effect of marijuana on car accidents, the researchers gathered data on car accidents on April 13, April 20, and April 27. April 20 is widely “celebrated” by marijuana users, and 4:20 PM on that day is traditionally regarded as a time to imbibe on the once-illicit drug. Consequently, researchers looked at the number of car accidents between 4:20 PM and midnight on April 20 and compared the results to the statistics during the same time period a week earlier and a week later.  The researchers compared the data over a 25-year period and in several different locations throughout the country. The results showed a 12 percent overall increase in fatal accidents between 4:20 PM and midnight on April 20. Further, the increase in car accidents was particularly notable in drivers under the age of 20. New York, along with Texas and Georgia, saw the sharpest increase in fatal car accidents on April 20.

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Two New York City hospitals are being sued for the damages caused by the release of allegedly dangerous patients from their psychiatric wards. In the past month, two lawsuits have been filed against New York City hospitals alleging that the hospitals behaved in a negligent or careless manner when they released dangerous patients into the tri-state area. These patients then went on to physically attack the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

subway-push-victim-300x200The first case involves Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, where a Queens man is suing the hospital after one of its patients pushed her husband in front of a subway car last year. Tragically, the man’s wife died as a result of the fall. According to the lawsuit, Bellevue never should have released the patient, Melanie Liverpool-Turner. Liverpool-Turner, a diagnosed schizophrenic, was allegedly ranting about killing transit riders while on an involuntary psychiatric hold at the hospital, according to filings with a Manhattan Supreme Court. Continue reading

distracted-drivingThe number of car accidents in America has steadily increased since 2014, reversing a previous downward trend on America’s roadways. Experts believe that an increase in distracted driving is largely to blame for the increase in car accidents – pointing to the rise of cell phones, in particular.

Distracted driving is a catch-all term for whenever a driver is not focused on the roadways. While this obviously includes activities such as texting and driving or putting on makeup while commuting to work, distracted driving encompasses many more activities. A driver may be distracted if they are changing the radio station, inputting an address into their navigation system, or having an emotional conversation that distracts the driver from concentrating on the road. Experts believe that, since there is no test to measure what a driver was concentrating on at the time of an accident, the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers is woefully under reported.   Continue reading

In 2012, a Long Island man, Daniel Sajewski, rammed his father’s red Mercedes-Benz through a Huntington house, narrowly missing the two elderly sisters that lived in the residence. Sajewski was, perhaps predictably, intoxicated – blowing an off-the-chart 0.30 on a breathalyzer, far exceeding New York’s 0.08 limit. In addition to losing their belongings (including a wedding band that could not be located in the rubble), the accident left the two 90-year-old sisters homeless for several months. In 2013, the judge sentenced Sajewski to one-and-a-half years to three years in prison.

carcrash-300x181More recently, State Farm, who insured the house that was destroyed, has decided to pursue legal action against Sajewski’s father, the owner of the vehicle. State Farm is seeking $180,000 from the father to reimburse it for the money spent on repairing the home. State Farm is able to pursue this claim because, under New York law, the owner of a vehicle is liable for the damages caused by its drivers – so long as the driver has the owner’s permission to operate the vehicle.  According to the statute, the permission can be expressly stated or implied.

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Police Officer Jason Behar has the impressive distinction of issuing the most DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in the State of New York. The Port Chester Officer had issued 128 DUI arrests in the last year. Behar says that he is motivated to locate drunk or otherwise intoxicated drivers because of the “numerous accidents, some involving deaths.” The Port Chester Police Chief Richard Conway said, “We’re really proud of him, it was a great individual effort.”

When describing how Behar locates so many drivers under the influence, he states there are several “tip-offs” – driving with no lights on, hugging the line, and swerving back and forth. To avoid a DUI, Behar suggests to basically just “Don’t do it.” Adding that taking a cab, an Uber, or not drinking above the legal limit. Behar also has advice for sober drivers – “…. pull over the side of the road and stay away from erratic drivers. There’s an element of danger just being around a drunk driver.”

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has worked tirelessly to increase awareness of the dangers of drunk driving in an effort to stamp out driving while intoxicated. While surveys show that drunk driving has declined and is at an all-time low, driving while under the influence of marijuana or prescription drugs has increased dramatically.

The NHTSA in its Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers discovered that drunk driving has dropped by 33% in the past 8 years. This is an astonishing drop of 75% in the past 40 years. With that said, drivers are now increasingly driving under the influence of something else – drugs. The survey found that 25% of drivers tested positive for at least one dangerous drug.

While the NHTSA is celebrating its accomplishment regarding drunk driving, it is simultaneously buckling down to explore ideas on how to crack down on driving while under the influence of marijuana or prescription drugs. The NHTSA has been working with researchers, the police, and policy organizations to examine current policies and tweak them to deal with this new issue. The goal is to save lives and reduce car accidents.

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department reversed a trial court order that denied summary judgment to two landlords of a restaurant whose employees attacked the plaintiff.

One day, the plaintiff was walking down the sidewalk of New Utrecht Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. There is a restaurant that spans 6010 and 6012 New Utrecht Avenue. AYT Realty owns 6012 New Utrecht, and 6010 Realty owns 6010 New Utrecht. As the plaintiff was outside of the restaurant, for reasons unknown, a group of men beat him. According to the plaintiff, two of the men worked at the restaurant.

The plaintiff filed a claim with the Department of Social Services of the City of New York, and the Department of Social Services covered his medical expenses and then initiated a claim against the 6010 and AYT for reimbursement. The plaintiff also filed a lawsuit against AYT and 6010 to recover damages for personal injuries. AYT and 6010 moved jointly for summary judgment.

The United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released a Traffic Safety Facts – Research Note which summarizes the statistical date on lives saved by the implementation of seat belt laws and minimum drinking age laws. The note estimates that over 13,000 lives were saved by these provisions. The NHTSA is the division of the U.S. Department of Transportation which is responsible for highway and road safety. It is mandated with researching traffic safety measures, providing information, and forming regulations to make the roads safer.

The NHTSA considers lives saved to be one of the basic measurements of how effective safety devices, such as seatbelts, laws and regulations surrounding traffic safety are. They calculate the lives saved by comparing rates of compliance with the various laws and device usage numbers with changes in motor vehicle fatalities. Of course it is important to keep in mind that the numbers used to calculate the lives saved are only estimates, as it is impossible to know exactly what happened in every fatal accident and whether the lack of use or compliance with the relevant safety tool was the cause of the fatality.

The NHTSA estimated that in 2012 the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved approximately 12,174 lives up from 11,983 lives in 2013. They also predicted that if 100% of people used seat belts 3,031 lives would have been saved. This implies that there is still work to be done to stop preventable fatalities. As of 2012, forty nine states and the District of Columbia had seat belt laws in place. In thirty two of these states and the District of Columbia had primary laws requiring the use of a seatbelt. A primary seat belt law is one in which a car may be pulled over by the police and the driver fined solely for not wearing a seatbelt. In the remaining nineteen states the seat belt laws are what are referred to as secondary law states. In a secondary law state there must be another reason to pull the vehicle over. Motor vehicles in secondary states cannot be pulled over solely because their occupants or driver is not wearing a seatbelt. Statistics released by the NHTSA have shown that in states with primary laws concerning seatbelts the rate of fatalities involving injuries to non-restrained persons is less than in secondary state laws. This implies that there is a positive value in having stricter seat belt laws and particularly in having stricter enforcement measures for those laws.

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