New York Continues to Pass New Laws to Assist in the Prosecution, Conviction and Punishment of Drunk Drivers
New legislation that will immediately permit the introduction into evidence blood drawn by certified nurse practioners and advance emergency medical technicians without direct physician supervision from motorists who are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol was signed earlier this week by Governor David A. Paterson. Police officers will notbe permitted to draw the blood themselves. Under the prior law, if a police officer asked medical personnel to draw blood from a suspected drunk or impaired driver following a collision, and a physician did not directly supervise the procedure, the evidence was inadmissible. The prior law enabled some suspected drunk drivers to avoid punishment for causing accidents, even fatal ones. The new law, which amends Vehicle and Traffic Lawsection 1194,is being referred to as Jack Sheas Bill because one such situation involved the death of two-time Olympic gold medalist Jack Shea. Mr. Shea, the 91-year-old who won two gold medals for speedskating at the 1932 Olympics, was involved in a motor vehicle accident in January 2002. An advanced emergency medical technician at the hospital which Mr. Shea and the other driver were brought to following the accident drew blood from the motorist whose vehicle collided with Mr. Sheas at the request of a police officer and with the consent of the driver. The test revealed that the driver had a blood alcohol content of 0.15, or nearly twice the legal limit, and he was indicted for vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated. However, since the blood draw was not supervised by a physician, the evidence was suppressed and the charges were dismissed. Drunken drivers cause about 9,000 accidents and kill approximately 400 people annually in New York State, according to the Governors press release. New York has taken several steps over the past year to strengthen its drunken and impaired driving laws. For example, Leandras Law made it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car. Also, effective August 15, the law will require everyone convicted of a misdemeanor or felony drunken driving offense even first time offenders to install and maintain an ignition interlock device in any vehicle they drive. The lawyers at Levine & Slavit have decades of experience handling personal injury claims including those involving auto accidents. For over 50 years spanning 3 generations, we have obtained results for satisfied clients. We have offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handling cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and surrounding areas. If you or someone close to you has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit for their help. To learn more, watch our videos.