Recent Celeb DUI/DWI Arrests in New York Highlight Problem

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Some recent arrests of celebrities in New York have been making headlines. Mary Kennedy, the wife of Bobby Kennedy Jr., was arrested on May 15 for driving under the influence (DUI/DWI) in Bedford, N.Y. She allegedly ran over a curb at a school and her blood alcohol level (BAC) was purportedly measured at .11; the legal limit in New York is .08.

Another New York socialite was arrested on Memorial Day for DUI. Sonja Morgan, a cast member of "The Real Housewives of New York City," was stopped by police in South Hampton on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs after she ran a stop sign around 2 a.m. She purportedly failed her field sobriety tests after partying all day in the Hamptons.

Part of the crackdown on celebrities stems from New York's no-nonsense policies toward all drunk drivers. For example, New York's Leandra's Law deals with drunk drivers who have passengers in their vehicle who are under the age of 16. If a driver is caught driving while intoxicated with a child under 16 in the vehicle, their misdemeanor charge gets upgraded to a Class E felony. If the driver is a parent to the child in the car, the law requires that police notify child protective services of the arrest.

Despite the celebrity DUI/DWI cases, the statistics for deaths from accidents involving alcohol have actually fallen drastically since 1982. In that year, 52 percent of New York traffic fatalities involved the use of alcohol. In 2008, that number had dropped to 28 percent. In 1982, there were more than 1,100 DUI related deaths in New York; that number was down to 409 in 2008.

Drunk driving is still a concern in New York and across the U.S., but tougher laws and enforcement and a growing acknowledgement of the need for treatment and rehabilitation for alcohol abuse should continue to drive these numbers down. Celebrity DUI/DWI arrests and others highlight the fact that alcohol abuse can strike people from all socioeconomic backgrounds. If you or someone you love has been arrested or charged with DUI/DWI, contact an experienced DUI/DWI defense lawyer for help.