The deadliest holiday of the year is quickly approaching. The Fourth of July has repeatedly ranked as the deadliest holiday, surprisingly, even more fatal than New Year's Eve. Over the past 25 years, on average, more than half of all fatal motor vehicle accidents on July 4th involve alcohol.
If you plan to indulge in some adult beverages this Fourth of July, be careful not to end up behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Although people automatically think of drinking and driving in terms of cars, motorcycles and trucks another problem involves boats.
Boating while Under the Influence (BUI) continues to be a major problem throughout the US and alcohol-related boating deaths have nearly quadrupled in the past ten years in Connecticut. Not too long ago, a tragic July 2008 incident on Candlewood Lake claimed two lives and left two critically injured, where one of the drivers had registered a .19 BAC. Driving while Under the Influence (DUI) in an automobile is extremely dangerous as well, in 2008, 86 people were killed in Connecticut in accidents where at least one driver had a BAC of 0.08% or above.
Even in situations where there is no accident, BUI and DUI can have serious consequences for the driver. Police officers will be out in full force during the 4th of July season including increased patrols and checkpoints throughout Connecticut. Impaired boaters in Connecticut can expect increased patrols with severe penalties for BUI, including fines, jail and loss of boating privileges.
First time DUI offenders face strong mandatory penalties in Connecticut. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can suspend your license for at least 90 days. In addition to the administrative penalties from the DMV, the state court system can impose criminal penalties including:
- First offense: One-year license suspension; six-month jail sentence, with 48 hours mandatory minimum time in jail, or a suspended sentence with 100 hours of community service; fine from $500 to $1,000.
- Second offense: One-year license suspension, followed by two years with ignition interlock device (for in-state violations featuring drivers who are at least 21); two-year jail sentence, with mandatory 120 days in jail; 100 hours of community service; fine from $1,000 to $4,000.
- Third offense: Revocation of license; three-year sentence with one-year mandatory time in jail; 100 hours of community service; fine from $2,000 to $8,000.
In addition to the fines and penalties listed above, you may also incur the following costs and expenses: towing costs, higher insurance rates; bail bond; attorney fees; loss of income; loss of employment; and cost of a mandatory alcohol education program. Those that are less fortunate may be responsible for severely injuring or even killing another human being with ramifications that are almost beyond comprehension.
Drunk driving is a major public safety threat that causes needless crashes and tragic loss of life and is completely preventable; so whether you are enjoying your Fourth of July holiday by land or by water, remember to drink and act responsibly.
Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP, with offices throughout the state. A graduate of Fordham Law School, he has been named a New England Super Lawyer and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut" and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents." He has also co-authored the best selling book "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing- What Your Insurance Company Doesn't Want You to Know and Won't Tell You Until It's Too Late!" He can be reached at 1(888)CTLAW-00 or by visiting www.hcwlaw.com.