CDMF Code of Ethics and Personal Experiences

Introduction

Who We Are

CDMF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to providing financial and other assistance to victims of DUI and their families, and to raising awareness about DUI prevention. Ingestion of alcohol and/or drugs negatively affects brain function. It impairs muscle coordination, reflexes, vision, reaction time, depth perception, reasoning, and even basic thinking processes. It is physiologically impossible to operate a motor vehicle safely if one has been drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

Why We Exist

My husband was killed by a drunk driver on February 27, 2013, and I established CDMF approximately ten months afterward.  During the first few surreal days after his death I wrote an insert for the funeral program book. I wanted to share with people who attended, some of the reasons Chris’ life mattered, and some of the reasons his loss mattered. His life and untimely death is the reason for CDMF.  My words in the funeral program are attached to this document as Appendix A.

I will never know how many people truly heed the message I share through CDMF. There is no way to know how many people hear our words and understand the first-hand experience behind those wordd, and choose to therefore not drink and drive, or do drugs and drive. But I know from verbal and written surveys and assessments we conduct, that we have affected the thought process of many people. We also get emails or calls from people sharing how they modified their behavior because of the CDMF message.  That result is the goal of our Mission to raise awareness about DUI and enlighten people about ways to prevent it.

Appendix B to this Code of Ethics contains definitions and explanation for many the acronyms and phrases typically associated with DUI in New York State.

The CDMF Code of Ethics Embodies My Personal Code

My personal ethical frameworks are the underpinning of this Code. My personal values, ethics and standards are evident within each Tenet.

I believe that there are very few ethical absolutes in this world; shades of gray abound. Even when dealing with statements that are supposed to be moral absolutes, there can be shades of gray.  For example, the Ten Commandments are considered by many to be a set of moral, ethical absolutes. They are a virtues-based set of instructions. They also could be considered somewhat deontological, or duty-oriented.  But because they are grounded in what is within us, I view them as primarily virtues based.

For example, one Commandment admonishes ‘Thou shalt not covet.’ Coveting is the wanting of what someone else possesses.  It is internal, not overt. Other Commandments, such as ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and ‘Thou shall not steal’ are echoed in our civil laws. These seem absolute, but there are grey areas within them.

For example, if someone kills in self-defense we understand that as a reasonable exception, and do not penalize them for the action. If you steal an apple to feed your starving child, even an acutely rules-based person, is unlikely to castigate you, because the reason for the theft puts the offence in that grey area. With DUI there is never a grey area. As soon as you have one alcoholic drink, you should have a plan to not risk DUI.

Code of Ethics

Tenet One

I will focus on the core advocacy Mission of CDMF, despite any temptation that may arise to divert resources into other efforts, however important those other efforts may also be. The Mission of CDMF is very clearly defined. I must achieve impactful outcomes within parameters of that Mission. I must represent families of DUI victims, and be a rational, informed voice about DUI and its prevention. Straying from our defined Mission endangers our effectiveness and even our legal status as a tax exempt nonprofit organization.

I was contacted by a gentleman in my regional area who wanted to have a joint event with his nonprofit and CDMF. The title of his organization includes “… drunk, drugged, texting, cell-phone and distracted driving.” All of those are certainly serious dangers. However, the CDMF Mission is, and must remain, focused on the dangers of drunk and drugged driving.  Keeping our Mission clearly defined increases our effectiveness, and simplifies the message for any CDMF public relations spokesperson.

In ‘Mission Matters Most’, (Junker, 2014), the authors state that “Mission creep can stretch an organization so thin and so far, that it can no longer effectively pursue its goals.” CDMF must resist the temptation to assist victims of reckless driving, distracted driving, etc. DUI is a huge issue. Our resources will not allow reformulating our Mission to encompass more. Resources must go to fulfilling our stated Mission as it already exists.

“Grants by Public Charities to Individuals”, a 2002 article from The New York Community Trust, discusses the legality and appropriateness of grants made to individuals. Such grants are permitted if recipients are in a “charitable class” that the granting organization has clearly defined. After September 11, 2001, the IRS widened the definition about needs for which cash can be given, including “assistance with rent, mortgage payments, or car loans to prevent loss of a primary home or transportation that would cause additional trauma to families already suffering…” This type of assistance is at the core of our Mission to assist families of victims.

CDMF cannot be jeopardized by any temptation to help victims of other tragedies, no matter how sad the situation or worthy the cause.  It is hard to accept that the general ethical maxim to Do all the good you can do really cannot apply to CDMF. Just because we may have funds to help someone in crisis does not mean we can ethically help them, if it will imperil our existence.

Tenet Two

I will require all financial dealings be responsible, honest and transparent, so I will practice good and honest governance. I am responsible to be truthful to donors about what their donated money accomplishes. I am accountable for clear transparency to the public because CDMF is tax-exempt. Having a tax-exempt status means CDMF has an extra responsibility to use the donated funds entrusted to us wisely and honestly. Donors must trust that we are faithful custodians of their donations. I must be financially responsible so CDMF can help those whose lives will be saved because the CDMF Mission was successfully delivered.

There are important ethical and legal reasons for transparency, but also valid ethical reasons for reluctance about certain types of transparency. Crime victims and their families have privacy rights. Publishing the names of those to whom CDMF gives money increases transparency, but invades their legitimate right to privacy. It is against my ethical standards to make publicly revealing a family’s suffering be the price of helping them. I will never, under any circumstances, ever even consider exploiting a family’s grief and sadness to get press coverage.

Good governance is vitally important for success of a nonprofit. Lester Salamon is a noted expert on the subject of ethics in the nonprofit sector. As he wrote, “Sound nonprofit operations depend primarily on the structure of internal governance. The law imposes on nonprofit fiduciaries the twin duties of loyalty and care …”.  (Salamon, 2002). Good governance, loyalty and care are necessary for CDMF to be financially responsible.

The writers of ‘Ethics and Nonprofits’ (Rhodes, 2009), explore how public confidence has been eroded by scandals in a wide variety of nonprofit areas, and “Public confidence in nonprofits is similarly at risk”. They conclude that the only real way to counter “moral myopia” is by checks against reference points outside the organization – accomplished via financial transparency. That is very true, but we cannot lose sight of ethical responsibility also owed to recipients.

Tenet Three

I will respect privacy of donors, and not sell nor share their information for any reason, nor accept donations with restrictive conditions attached, regardless of any temptation there might be to do so.

Any nonprofit can be manipulated by a donor if the nonprofit is not cautious.  A nonprofit cannot just accept funds because they are offered. Funds donated with stipulations that involve more than a mention in a program book, can be dangerous. For example, CDMF received a nice donation from an individual who turned out to be a representative for a wine importer. He touted his own donation as evidence that he was a huge supporter of the fight against DUI. Had we known his intentions, we would not have accepted his donation at all. We ended up returning his money and having our lawyer present him with a cease and desist letter to stop using our logo in his promotion.

I will keep our donor database in an ethical, confidential manner. Selling or sharing donor information may yield revenue for CDMF, but betrays the trust donors place in CDMF when they decided to give to our cause. If I ever want to sell or share the donor database, I will contact donors, explain and give them opportunity to opt out.

A New York Times article (Miller, 1997), discusses how a wealthy donor husband and wife pledged millions of dollars to the Central Park Children’s Zoo in exchange for several things, including having the zoo named for them. As things progressed, they were unhappy with how their name was to be displayed on the entrance, among other unspecified issues. Ultimately, they reneged on their pledge and revoked the promised funding.  The Zoo was left scrambling to find a replacement donor willing to donate millions.  Fortunately, another wealthy donor volunteered to fill the financial void.  CDMF will not be dictated to by any size donor. We are not currently fortunate enough to have millionaire benefactors like the Zoo, but if we ever do, our Code of Ethics will still apply.

The Art of the Steal (Agott, 2009), is a film that relates how the nonprofit Barnes Foundation acted in what I consider a very unethical manner.  They went against the legally drawn up, clearly expressed instructions of its deceased creator. In efforts started by people Barnes loathed, the terms of his will were violated by trustees for their own self-aggrandizement. Ultimately Dr. Barnes’ spectacular art collection was moved exactly where Barnes did not want it to be.

I could never, in good and ethical conscience, allow CDMF to violate the terms of a donor’s conditions. We can prevent ethical problems by not accepting any conditional donations.   I believe ethical problems will always lead to PR problems. PR problems require handling, Handling requires time and money. The more PR problems I can prevent, the more I can focus our PR efforts on advancing positive press and Mission efforts of CDMF.

Tenet Four

I will strive to improve the rights of DUI victims and their families, while balancing their right to privacy and personal dignity. The legal system is focused only on rights of the accused, and the integrity of procedural steps. Of course, those are both extremely important for the interest of justice.  Too often, though, victims and their families are treated as a procedural footnote.  There are federal and state rules about this, but those rules are often not followed. The egregiousness of this fluctuates from state to state, and to a lesser degree, from one federal jurisdiction to another.

A surviving victim, or a deceased victim’s survivors, should be made aware and kept aware of any criminal process or proceedings. Certainly, I do not mean this to be regarding confidential information necessary for conducting a criminal investigation. There is a good amount of information that can, however, be shared.

CDMF has assisted a family in Texas. The husband was killed by a teenaged drunk driver eighteen months ago, and the wife nearly died. She awoke from a prolonged, deep coma, but she is forever intellectually changed. Her mother is caring for the significantly impaired wife and young children. For various complicated reasons and hard technicalities, they qualify for surprisingly scant assistance. One thing that would help them heal emotionally at least would be for some semblance of justice to be sought. The legal system has failed them woefully. The sheriff’s department will tell them nothing still, and no charges have been brought against the drunk teen who caused the deadly crash while driving his pick-up truck.  The drunk driver was the local high schools star quarterback. The drivers’ family has influential friends seeking to protect him. The surviving victim cannot afford an out of area private lawyer to take the case of pursuing the sheriff’s department.  Law enforcement in the area has no concern for the victims. Cases like this exist everywhere and often get completely forgotten about because they are not in a national media spotlight.

As pointed out in an article from Guardian Interlock, a company that produces alcohol detection interlock ignition systems, “While one might think that victims have sufficient rights in the US, the truth is that victims still have fewer rights than criminal offenders.” Since 1984, all states have adopted some type of cursory acknowledgment of victims’ rights. These laws are widely variable in scope and enforcement, and are rarely reviewed.

“Victims’ rights are personal rights that exist independent of prosecution, defense, or the court.”  (National Crime Victim Law Institute, 2017). Victims’ rights of privacy, protection and participation are civil rights. Recognizing these rights helps make certain that individual harm is among the harms recognized by the judicial system. These rights give victims some quiet voice in the process.  It is not an attempt to somehow derail enforcement discretion. Criminal courts have long given rights to participants who are not a defendant; allowing reporters or media representatives in courtrooms is an example. Accommodating basic acknowledgment of victims’ rights is fair and is easily accomplished.

Tenet Five

I am not opposed to alcoholic beverages, when consumed responsibly, but neither I nor CDMF will engage in behavior that could be perceived as hypocritical, or as supportive of alcoholic beverage funded endeavors. The Alcohol Industry has improved its advertising standards slightly to include admonishments for consumers to “Drink Responsibly.”  They give no details about what they mean by “Drink Responsibly.”  If people knew what it was really to drink responsibly, we would not have a nationwide DUI problem.

Despite that token improvement, CDMF will not accept funding or product donations from the Alcohol Industry. The Alcohol Industry includes brewers, wineries, distilleries, alcohol wholesalers who handle no other products, and any Association whose primary Mission is to promote the alcohol industry.

CDMF is not opposed to occasional informal, cooperative collaborations with members of the alcohol industry, provided those collaborations advance the Mission of CDMF.  Communication, discussion and sharing ideas can benefit the cause of saving lives and preventing DUI.  Regarding this tenet, I am acutely means based. As stated in the Ethics lecture about this, “… with a means-based organization, how we get there is very important. Did we do this the right way?”  For CDMF, doing things the right way includes not taking money from the Alcohol Industry.

The author of an article on nonprofit sponsorship hypocrisy poses the question, “… isn’t this partly the way of the nonprofit sector—being increasingly desperate for charitable capital and forced to turn to the corporate sector for partnerships and sponsorships?” (Cohen, 2012). CDMF is always struggling to raise money to carry out Mission. If offered sponsorship by a vineyard, however, we would have to politely decline, because their primary purpose is to encourage alcohol consumption. We have a hotel sponsor, and there is certainly a lot of alcohol served in bars, restaurants and clubs at the hotel. However, alcohol is not their primary business, and their policy is to seek to prevent drunk driving by providing alternatives for apparently inebriated patrons instead of letting them drive their own vehicles away from the hotel.

In the article ‘The Top Five Most Hypocritical Corporate Sponsors’, the author observes that “Many non-profits and other charities rely on corporate sponsorships to keep them afloat – and some of those partnerships seem as counterproductive” as fast food and a health club, or a brewery and CDMF.  Establishing any type of professional or business relationship with companies whose values or message are incongruous with the values and Mission of CDMF, is ethically unacceptable and must not happen.  Having the CDMF name associated with a company that is in stark contrast with our Mission would likely be a PR minefield.

Tenet Six

I believe that actions have, and should have, appropriate consequences. DUI is far too often treated as a minor offense instead of as a serious crime. CDMF will continue to educate people and advocate for changed attitudes and behaviors. We cannot, however, just hope someday people will miraculously change their behavior without substantial motivation. Some laws that should theoretically keep us safe from impaired drivers do exist. Courts and the police do attempt, overall, to enforce those laws.

However, many people driven by their own skewed version of the Individual Rights Framework know only that they want to do as they want to do. As stated in the lecture on ethical frameworks, “The basic thinking behind the individual rights framework is that you are responsible for your own destiny.” Some egotistical people see this as justification for doing as they please and ignoring potential consequences.

This type of thinking also fuels those who persistently insist that sobriety checkpoints are an illegal violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution (1791). The United States Supreme Court ruled that these checkpoints are indeed legal provided they are conducted according to state laws. To quote Chief Justice William Rehnquist in his writing of the majority opinion:

In sum, the balance of the state’s interest in preventing drunken driving, the extent to which this system can reasonably be said to advance that interest, and the degree of intrusion upon individual motorists who are briefly stopped, weighs in favor of the state program. We therefore hold that it is consistent with the Fourth Amendment …

Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U. S. 444 (1990)

The Court took a Utilitarianism stance, making their decision based on what is best for the

majority of the population without undue harm to the minority.

According to the Executive Officer of the NYPD Training Academy, police departments generally provide training for all officers about how to recognize signs of a driver being under the influence. Checkpoints are set up with careful planning, according to accepted legal procedures, and under supervision.  The Court valued saving lives over inconveniencing drivers for less than thirty seconds. That is the reason for sobriety checkpoints, and it is the reason from the police perspective as well.

Police officers would rather stand in the road for hours and deal with annoyed people then be extricating victims from wrecks caused by alcohol or drugs, or making devastating notifications to next of kin.  Officers are trained to observe signs of impairment, beginning with a few words of conversation. They learn impairment reactions shown involuntarily by the eyes, speech and other indicators. Each officer learns to administer a basic field sobriety test. If there are any indications of DUI, then the driver may be briefly detained at the scene until a supervising officer assesses the driver. If the superior concurs, the driver is taken into custody. Chemical test results can also mandate an arrest. All checkpoint interactions are always videotaped. (2017, Dee).

Regardless of impairment arrests made, notoriously weak consequences for DUI certainly do not aid in prevention of the crime. I strongly favor a dual system of penalties that are both criminal and administrative. This would be more impactful and could be a deterrent of repeat offenders.  Vehicles of habitual impaired drivers or drivers who drive while they have a DUI related driver’s license revocation or suspension, should be impounded and possibly sold.

I firmly believe that all alcohol or drug related vehicular offenses should be prosecuted according to how they were charged; currently they are very frequently negotiated down to lesser, non-alcohol related offenses.  Drunk driving is a serious crime.  Someone who is a repeat offender must be given some type of jail sentence.  Penalties only serve any deterrent function if people know the penalty is automatic when there is a conviction.

According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, during every mile driven, the person behind the wheel makes hundreds of instantaneous judgments and decisions. Those are the decisions that become actions, inactions, and prevent or cause crashes. To get a driver’s license, courses teach that when you drink alcohol or take drugs, it is impossible to be a safe driver. Every licensed driver has had to learn this to get their license. Some people simply choose to selfishly disregard the potential consequences of their actions.

The appalling lack of personal ethics displayed by drunk drivers makes it even more crucial that I continue to keep CDMF focused on its dual Mission of DUI prevention and offering various types of assistance to families of victims.

Conclusion

Nonprofits exist primarily for filling needs that society in general is failing to fill sufficiently, or sometimes is failing to fill at all. DUI is an issue that everyone knows about to some degree. The most basic driver’s education course addresses the fact that drinking alcohol and/or using drugs does unquestionably have a negative effect on any driver’s judgment and reaction time. Somehow, though, the DUI rates remain incredibly high. Most drivers who commit DUI do not see themselves as having perpetrated a serious offense. Society repeatedly communicates to the masses that alcohol is a requisite part of having a good time, celebrating holidays, marking special occasions, enjoying sports, sharing good times and being consoled when times are tough.  This inaccurate message is part of the reason that society generally makes excuses for DUI.

It is at first shocking how many excuses people make for DUI. The drunk driver made a mistake. He didn’t know he was over the limit. He has a problem. Alcoholism is an illness. I bet he never did it before. He was injured too. He was just trying to drive a few blocks. I heard he tried rehab before. Everybody does it sometimes.”  These are all exact quotes that were said to me about the drunk driver that killed my husband. I gradually realized that most of these comments were rooted in people struggling to deal with guilt or self-consciousness, knowing that they themselves have driven while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Or, they seek to receive victim agreement or approval that some of the factors that can contribute to DUI are somehow not the fault of the driver.

In the past several years, family after family have shared with me their experiences of having people voice to them empathetic statements about the DUI driver who brought death or grievous injury into their family.  They are invariably shocked by these comments people make. They do share how much it helps to have been forewarned that such an unexpected thing could happen. A gentleman who about a year ago survived the DUI crash that killed his wife, expressed to me a few months later that he had thought I must know terrible people if they said such awful things to me after my husband’s death. And then a number of those comments were made to him too. This is just a single, small example of a support service CDMF provides that other organizations do not.

CDMF provides customized support services for families of DUI victims, based on their own unique situation. We care about victims and their families; they are not statistics. The Mission of CDMF is important. Adherence to the CDMF Code of Ethics will help us survive, grow, continue in service to those who need us, and enlighten as many people as possible about DUI prevention.


Resources

The Art of the Steal (2009) Documentary, director Don Agott

Cohen, R. (2012¸ August 13). Some Corporate Nonprofit Sponsorships Yield Hypocrisy

Charges, NPQ: Nonprofit Quarterly. Retrieved from www.nonprofitquarterly.org.

Dee, R. (2017, November 6). In-person interview with Executive Officer of the NYPD Police

Academy.

Figueroa, A. (2012, August 5). Top Five Most Hypocritical Corporate Sponsors, Retrieved from

www.truth-out.org.

Junker, K. and Meeham III, W., Mission Matters Most, Stanford Social Innovation Review,

February 19, 2014. Retrieved from www.ssir.org.

MADD Urges More Support for DUI Victims’ Rights, (Editorial Staff, 2014). Retrieved

from www.guardianinterlock.com  .

Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U. S. 444 (1990)

Miller, J. (1997, May 20). Tisch to Match, and Raise, Revoked Gift to Children’s Zoo, The New

York Times, Retrieved from www.mobile.nytimes.com.

National Crime Victim Law Institute (2017) Retrieved from www.law.lclerk.Edu

“Grants by Public Charities to Individuals”, The New York Community Trust (June 2002)

New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved from www.dmv.ny.gov.

Rhodes, D. and Packel, A. (Summer 2009). Ethics and Nonprofits, Stanford Social Innovation

Review, Retrieved from www.ssir.org.

Salamon, L. (2002) The State of Nonprofit America, Brookings Institute Press, First Edition.

Published December 11, 2002.


 Appendix A

My husband said I was a good writer.  Yet I am at a loss for words.  I want to share with you how wonderful and unique a person Chris was, and I do not know where to begin.  So perhaps I should begin at the beginning.

Chris and I met at a party on February 11, 1984.  He attended St. Mary’s Boys’ High School, played piano, was cute, made me laugh, and drove me home in his car … a very cool night for a 16-year-old girl and 17-year-old guy.  We spoke on the phone the next day, and on Valentine’s Day he showed up at my high school (Valley Stream Central) with four roses, one for each day we had known one another.  That turned out to be characteristic of my first and only love.  He was sweet and caring, and prone to do the unexpected.

He graduated NYU School of Business.  I went to Hofstra.  We remained a couple.  We learned together, laughed together, and shared our plans and our dreams for the future, like young couples in love do.   He threw me many surprise parties, gave me silly cards and took me to fun places.   Chris worked as a teller at Seaman’s bank, so that he could “afford to have a girlfriend.”  He had a passion for hard work and for always doing the best he could possibly do.

In college, he started a business painting and cleaning medical offices.  He soon had a few employees.  We cleaned together in the evenings three days a week; the work was just more time spent together.  Even after he started his first job out of college, as a “runner” at the New York Stock Exchange, Chris kept the business going.  In December 1994 he proposed to me, proffering a beautiful ring he had designed himself, and revealing red roses, Dom Perignon and bridal magazines hidden in the trunk of his car.  Chris brought me to his parents’ home to share the news, and a stretch limo met us to take us into NYC for dinner at Tavern on the Green.  That was the way Chris was – thoughtful, loving, generous, with great attention to every detail.

We married at Holy Name of Mary in Valley Stream, on February 17, 1996.  We honeymooned in Italy, and then he surprised me with an extra week at Disney.  Chris and I settled into a good life.

In 1999 that we learned I had multiple sclerosis, and the two-month hospital and rehab stay was scary.  Chris assured me all would be ok.  I recovered and it was fine.  In 2000 Chris cried as he held our first child, Amanda.  Chris moved on to work at Morgan Stanley where he would continue his successful career.  Amanda was followed in 2003 by the birth of Sabrina, and in 2005 by the arrival of Nicholas.  Chris shed tears for the arrival of each child, vowing to be the best Dad ever.  And he was.

Chris changed countless diapers, made bottles, cleaned throw up and other messy delights that accompany children.  There were fun birthday parties, joyous holidays, and countless ordinary days made extraordinary by his love for us.  He was rock steady, and resolute in his determination to give his family a wonderful life.  He signed cards to me “All my love, always and forever”, and he meant it.

In 2007 my multiple sclerosis rocked our world.  I spent over a year in hospitals and rehabs.  Faced with circumstances that prompt many spouses to run away, Chris simply changed our world to accommodate the new reality we faced.  He continued to work full time, raise our kids, take them to Mass weekly, and support me and our sacramental commitment.  These past years have seen us continue to enjoy our amazing children and one another.  Chris brought us a dog, pet chickens we hatched from eggs, a teacup pig, a guinea pig he magically made appear in the St. Anne’s parking lot, and just last month, a rabbit.  Why?  Because each represented new experiences and learning, and laughter.

In 2011 Chris accepted a position at UBS in NJ, taking on a 90-minute commute each way because he saw it as a way to continue his career and further his ability to provide safety and security for our family “team”.   Again, he excelled because of his passion to “do the right thing”.

Chris helped so many people who never knew him.  He was a “cookie mom” for Girl Scouts, swung a hammer for Habitat for Humanity, helped with food drives and coat drives, fulfilled Christmas wishes for kids, provided Thanksgiving dinners for families and on and on.  He joined the Knights of Columbus in hopes of expanding his opportunities to help people.  For 29 years we spoke so many times each day because there was much to share.

My husband was an amazing guy … he never liked being referred to as a man, he was a “guy”.  Kind, unpretentious, smart, devout, handsome and he had a great sense of humor.  He had warm, safe hands that could hold a pen to do complex calculations at the office, or hang sheetrock perfectly, or dry a child’s tears, or hold my hands and make me feel all was right with the world.  I will remember that feeling forever, though it is now lost to me forever.  Chris was the best person I have ever known, and I am so grateful I had told him that many times.

Please do something kind or fun for someone, in memory of Chris.  I think he would like to be remembered in that way.

Appendix B

Key Terms & Definitions to Improve Understanding

CDMF is a New York based organization. Therefore, for our everyday purposes we reference New York State law. The New York DUI laws set up to combat drunk driving are broken out into several different categories, and refers to specific metrics. They are defined as:

BAC

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is the percentage of alcohol in the blood. It is usually determined by a chemical test of breath, blood, urine or saliva.

DWI

DWI (driving while intoxicated): If you have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher, you can be charged with DWI.

DWAI

DWAI (driving while ability impaired): This is a grade down from a full DWI charge, and is reserved for people with a BAC of between .05% and .07%, or driver who otherwise show they are impaired.

DWAI/Drugs

DWAI/drugs: This portion of the law accounts for non-alcoholic substances that alter and impair your ability to drive. Street drugs, prescriptions, and even some over-the-counter drugs can fall into this category.

Chemical test refusal

According to New York DWI laws you have the right to refuse a blood, breath, or urine test that would determine your BAC, but if you refuse and are ultimately convicted for DWI, you could lose your license and be fined a $500 civil penalty.

Zero tolerance law

This is reserved for anyone under the age of 21 who is caught driving with a BAC of .02% or higher.

Leandra’s Law

(Child Passenger Protection Act)

It is an automatic felony in New York State, on the first offense, to drive drunk with a person under age sixteen in the vehicle.

 

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