New York State seal

December 29, 1992

SUBJECT: INSURANCE

WITHDRAWN

Circular Letter No. 8 (1992)

TO: ALL AUTHORIZED PRIVATE PASSENGER AUTOMOBILE INSURERS IN NEW YORK STATE

RE: REQUIRED informational STATEMENT ON THE CONSEQUENCES OF DRIVING WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL OR DRUGS

Pursuant to Section 312, Subdivision 1 of the Vehicle & Traffic Law, upon issuance or renewal of a private passenger automobile insurance policy subject to Section 3425 of the Insurance Law, insurers are required to provide every insured with an informational statement, outlining the legal and financial consequences of convictions for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This statute also requires the Insurance Department to prepare and supply such an informational statement to insurers, after consultation with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.

The most recent relevant changes were enacted by Chapter 420 of the Laws of 1992. This legislation increased the penalties for violations, of Section 1192 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, which prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle while the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Stricter penalties were also included for the operation of a commercial motor vehicle under such impairment. Accordingly, Circular Letters No. 11 (1984) and No. 15 (1987), which previously addressed this subject, are superseded by this Circular Letter, to which is attached a prescribed notice that updates the information on such penalties. Insurers must provide this updated informational statement to their insureds.

The penalties reflected in this informational statement became effective for all violations on or after November 1, 1992. Companies should furnish this statement to all newly written insureds no later than March 1, 1993, and to all other insureds with the next renewal or billing notice sent to them on or after April 1, 1993. Insurers may revise the format of the statement to accommodate their internal operating systems and mailing procedures, but any variation in the text of the attached statement must be submitted to the Insurance Department for review. Such submission shall include a letter pointing out deviations from the attached statement. Please acknowledge receipt of this Circular Letter in writing to the attention of Mr. Alvin Kaufman, Senior Insurance Examiner (212-602-0352), at the above address.

Very truly yours, [SIGNATURE]

SALVATORE R. CURIALE

SUPERINTENDENT OF INSURANCE

TO ALL OPERATORS OF MOTOR VEHICLES IN NEW YORK STATE

As your insurance company, we are required by law to advise you of the legal and financial consequences of being convicted for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We strongly endorse the message conveyed by the law -- that it doesn't pay to drink and drive.

Alcohol or drug impairment is a major problem involving not only the impaired driver, but other innocent drivers and pedestrians. We are constantly reminded of the serious consequences of drinking and driving, yet property damage, injuries and deaths caused by alcohol or drug-impaired driving continue to be a major problem. In fact, studies (such as those published in "Fatality Facts 1992" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) show that alcohol or drug use is a contributing factor in over 40% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents (over 70% for single-vehicle motorcycle crashes).

New York State has recently passed laws increasing the penalties for convictions of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Stiffer penalties are also levied for convictions of such impairment while operating a commercial vehicle, especially when transporting certain hazardous materials.

Please familiarize yourself, and anyone else who operates your vehicle, with this important information. Please remember: If you drink, don't drive!

BASIC PENALTIES. DECREE OF IMPAIRMENT AND INSURANCE PENALTIES

When your license is revoked by the. Department of Motor Vehicles, you will be required to pay a $ 50 fee at the time of re-application, unless you participate in the New York State Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Program, known as the Drinking Driver Program. This fee is non-refundable even if your application is denied, and is in addition to any fines imposed by the courts.

If you have been drinking or taking drugs and cause a death or serious injury as a result of a traffic accident, you may face felony charges of vehicular manslaughter or vehicular assault. Conviction of such a charge could result in a $ 5,000 fine and/or up to seven years in prison.

If you attend the Drinking Driver Program, you must pay an administrative conditional license fee of $ 75 and a course tuition fee of $ 125. In addition, if you are required to obtain an evaluation and/or treatment for alcohol-related problems, you must also pay for these additional services.

If you drive while your license is suspended or revoked for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired), or for refusing a chemical test, you face a mandatory jail term of 7 to 180 days, and a mandatory fine of $ 500--$ 1,000.

If you are under age 21 and charged with DWI or DWAI, and you are convicted or adjudicated (not convicted solely due to youthful offender status granted by the court) of such charges, your license will be revoked for a minimum of one year. If you have two such convictions (or adjudications) and are under age 21, your license will be revoked for a period of one year, or until you become 21, whichever is longer.

If you are convicted of an alcohol-related offense outside of New York State, your license will be revoked in New York State for a minimum period of ninety (90) days for a charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). This is in addition to any fines and/or jail sentences imposed by a court in the state in which the incident occurred, or any action against your driving privilege in that state.

HOW MANY DRINKS MAKE YOU LEGALLY INTOXICATED?

In New York State, you are legally intoxicated when your Blood Alcohol Content (B.A.C.) reaches .10%. You are considered to be Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) when the B.A.C. is more than .05% but less than .10%.

Any amount of drinking will affect your judgment and coordination. The degree of impairment depends on four basic factors:

(a) how much you drink;

(b) how long you drink;

(c) eating before or during drinking, as food slows absorption of alcohol; and

(d) your body weight.

A 12-ounce can of beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or a shot of 86-proof liquor all contain the same amount of alcohol. Your body metabolizes about one drink each hour. Only time will truly sober you up, not coffee, a walk, or a cold shower.

Therefore, if you consume more than one drink per hour, the likelihood is that you are at least DWAI if you weigh around 110 pounds and had 2 drinks, or DWAI if you had 3 drinks and weigh 170 pounds or more. As a rule of thumb for an average 140-160 pound person, B.A.C. level rises .02% per hour per drink.

As an example, a 140-pound person who consumes 5 drinks in a two-hour period will have a .08% B.A.C. (deducting .02% for the passage of time). Even if no more alcohol is consumed, that individual may not safely drive for at least 4 hours. Remember, any elevation in B.A.C. will impair your judgment and coordination.

ALCOHOL/DRUG-RELATED CONVICTIONS AND YOUR AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE POLICY

Suspension or revocation of your driver's license (or the driver's license of any person who normally operates an automobile insured under your policy) is just cause for your insurance company to cancel your automobile insurance policy.

A conviction of driving while impaired or intoxicated through the use of alcohol or drugs will probably result in non-renewal of your insurance policy, and in your inability to obtain insurance with another company in the voluntary market. You will then, find yourself relegated to the New York Automobile Insurance Plan (Assigned Risk Plan), at a substantially higher cost.

Currently, under the Assigned Risk Plan, a conviction of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or impaired by the use of alcohol or drugs will result in a 75% surcharge, increasing your automobile insurance premiums for three years. Most automobile insurance companies will also surcharge your premiums substantially for any convictions of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

NO-FAULT EXCLUSIONS

Still another reason for not driving in an intoxicated or impaired condition due to drinking or drugs, is that No-Fault benefits will not be available to you if you are injured as a result. Any basic economic loss (medical expenses, wage loss, other necessary expenses, death benefit) attributable to your own bodily injury would be outside of the No-Fault system. If you permit a non-DWI or non-DWAI person to drive your vehicle for you, then full No-Fault benefits will be available to you and all occupants of your vehicle in case of an accident.

Here, then, are the sobering facts:

FINES AND IMPRISONMENT PENALTIES FOR ALCOHOL/DRUG-RELATED DRIVING OFFENSES AS OF NOVEMBER 1. 1992

According to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, the following penalties will be imposed for the noted violations:

VIOLATION

MANDATORY

MAXIMUM JAIL

MANDATORY ACTION

 
 

FINE

TERM

AGAINST LICENSE

 

-DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED (DWI) (.10% BAC+ or

 

higher or while impaired by use of a drug) -- All Vehicles

 
         

First Violation

$ 500-1000

1 Year

-Revoked at least

 
   

(Misdemeanor)

6 months

 
     

-If CDL++, 1 Year

 
     

revocation

 
     

-10 year CDL

 
     

disqualification

 
         

Two or more

       

Violations

$ 1,000-5,000

4 Years

-Revoked at least

 

in 10 Years

 

(Felony)

1 Year

 
     

-Permanent CDL

 
     

disqualification

 
         

-DRIVING WHILE ABILITY IMPAIRED (DWAI) (more

 

than .05% but less than .10% BAC)- Private Passenger Vehicle

 
         

First Violation

$ 300-500

15 Days

-Suspended 90 days

 
   

(Traffic

-If CDL, 1 Year

 
   

infraction)

revocation

 
     

-10 year CDL

 
     

disqualification

 

+ - Blood Alcohol Content

 

++ - Commercial Driver's License

 

VIOLATION

MANDATORY

MAXIMUM JAIL

MANDATORY ACTION

 

FINE

TERM

AGAINST LICENSE

-DRIVING WHILE ABILITY IMPAIRED (DWAI) (more than .05% but

less than 10% BAC)- Private Passenger Vehicle (Continued)

       

Violations within

     

5 Years of any

$ 500-750

30 Days

-Revoked at least

conviction for

   

6 months

DWI or DWAI

   

-Permanent CDL

     

disqualification

       

Violations within

     

10 Years of any

$ 750-1500

90 days

-Revoked at least 6

two or more

   

months if current

convictions for

   

violation occurred

DWI or DWAI

   

within 5 years of

     

the previous

     

conviction

     

-Permanent CDL

     

disqualification

       

-DRIVING WHILE ABILITY IMPAIRED (DWAI) (more than

.05% but less than .10% BAC)- Commercial Motor Vehicle

       

(.04 -.07% BAC)

$ 300-500

15 Days

-10 Year CDL

   

(Traffic

disqualification

   

infraction)

-1 Year CDL revocation

       

(>.07 -.09% BAC)

$ 500-1500

180 Days

-10 year CDL

     

disqualification

     

-1 Year revocation

       

-CHEMICAL TEST REFUSAL

N/A

N/A

-Revoked at least 6

     

months

     

-$ 200 Civil, penalty

     

-If commercial motor

     

vehicle, civil

     

penalty of $ 250

     

and 1 Year revocation

       

-CHEMICAL TEST REFUSAL

     

with prior alcohol-

     

related incident

N/A

N/A

-Revoked at

within the past

   

1 Year

five years

   

-$ 500 Civil penalty

-Penalties (including fines and jail terms) may be higher for multiple offenses and for violations while transporting certain types of passengers or materials.