Last year, 13 people were killed in car crashes in New York on New Year's Eve. It's one of the most dangerous times to be driving of the year.
But if you're one of those people who is too thoughtless, uncaring or reckless with other people's lives to not drive drunk on New York's Eve, then maybe you'll at least be concerned about what happens to your own selfish, sorry butt.
Here are a couple of reminders as you venture out onto the roads on Thursday night: The cops will be out in force. Last year, they made more than 700 DWI arrests on this one night alone. And when they catch you, you're in for a heap of trouble.
Here in New York, if you're arrested for DWI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 to 0.17, you can be fined up to $1,000, spend a year in jail and lose your license for six months. Now let's say you're really smashed and you get your blood alcohol level up to aggravated DWI level, 0.18 BAC or more. The potential penalties include a fine of between $1,000 and $2,500, a year in jail, and revocation of your license for at least one year. If you've got a history of DWIs and you get caught tonight, the sanctions jump to a minimum fine of $1,000 and up to 10 years in prison. (For a full rundown on the penalties, visit: http://dmv.ny.gov/tickets/penalties-alcohol-or-drug-related-violations.)
On top of the fines, don't forget mandatory court surcharges: $250 for a misdemeanor DWI and around $400 for a felony. And you'll need a lawyer. Typical attorneys fees for a routine DWI arrest range from $2,500 to $5,000. If they had to tow your car, you're looking at at least $100 to get it out of impound. Your next car insurance bill will be looking fatter with a conviction, as much as $4,500 to $10,000 more per year. And if your license is suspended, you'll need transportation to work every day. It won't be free.
The best way to avoid DWI, of course is not to drink at all. In general, just two drinks in an hour will get your blood alcohol content up to 0.05, depending on several factors. That's enough for police to deem you impaired. It takes about one hour for your body to process one drink out of your system.
Before you go out tonight, if you must drink, arrange for a designated driver. Or call a cab. In our region, they're pretty cheap, even for a long ride home — certainly far cheaper than some of the fines listed above. If you're hosting a private party, let your inebriated friends crash on your couch. Or book a hotel room for the night and sleep it off. Again, cheaper than a DWI fine and penalties.
You don't want to kill or injure someone. And you don't want to face the penalties if you’re pulled over by one of those police officers on the prowl tonight.
Be smart and start the year off right.
If you're going to ring in 2016 with alcohol, don't get behind the wheel.