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According to the NHTSA’s “National Survey of Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behaviors,” four out of five people identified drunk driving as a “major threat” to their own and their family’s safety. The study showed that as many as eight percent of all drivers have driven drunk at least once during the past year, and one in five drove within two hours of consuming alcohol. The results of the survey showed that approximately two-thirds, or and estimated 85.5 million people, drove under the influence in the last thirty days – yes, 85.5 million impaired drivers on our roadways. This indicates a scary trend as well as the need for more education about the serious consequences of driving while under the influence.

Driving under the influence is pure negligence. It destroys lives – plain and simple. Drunk drivers can be held liable for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, medical expenses, funeral expenses, long-term care, and lost of income. It is clear that the consequences are devastating from everyone. What will it take to get the message across that drinking and driving is a dangerous and costly combination?

December 18 marked the one year anniversary that the Leandra Law went into effect in New York. The law, named after a child that was killed while riding in a vehicle driven by a drunk driver, makes it a felony for anyone to drive while intoxicated when children are in the vehicle. In one year, more than six hundred drivers have been arrested under the Leandra Law. In August, a new provision was added requiring all individuals convicted of a DWI, with or without a child in the car, to install an ignition interlock system on any vehicle they drive. Ignition interlocks are breath test devices that are linked to a vehicle’s ignition system. The device prevents the car from being started if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath. The driver must then continue to blow into the device approximately every 15 minutes to keep the ignition from cutting off.

The ignition interlock system has proven effective at stopping convicted drunk drivers from repeating drinking while intoxicated, but it does not save innocent victims involved in the first offense. Although mandatory interlock devices can be life-savers, we can never become complacent. We need to keep educating everyone about the dangers of drunk driving. As long as there is one driver who gets behind the wheel of a car after drinking, then we are all at risk. The destruction that can be caused by a drunk driver is irreparable. What are you doing to help make our roads safer? Don’t wait until something happens to you or your family. It might be too late.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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