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Wrong-way drivers may face harsher penalties, felonies

Drivers across the country know how dangerous it is to drive while intoxicated or impaired. There have been marketing and educational efforts launched to increase awareness of how deadly it is to drink and drive, but too many drivers in New York and nationwide fail to take this risk seriously. By neglecting their responsibility to comply with state and federal traffic laws, drunk drivers are putting every other motorist in danger of getting catastrophically injured or killed in a major auto accident.

One of the most unsafe things a driver can do is to drive the wrong way down a road. It is estimated that 22 percent of wrong-way accidents are fatal, and 60 percent of fatal wrong-way accidents are caused by impaired drivers.

These troubling statistics have prompted officials to take the issue of wrong-way drivers much more seriously. According to recent reports, there is currently a bill making its way through Congress that would increase the penalties for driving the wrong way on a road. If passed, the bill will make this action a felony. It is hoped that the tougher penalties will result in reduced accidents and fatalities caused by these negligent drivers.

Crashes involving a drunk driver who is on the wrong side of the road are often devastating. Especially when they occur on the highway, these accidents often involve a high rate of speed, giving drivers little or no time to slow down or avoid a direct collision. In many cases, the negligent driver who caused this type of accident can face a number of misdemeanor or felony charges already.

However, these charges may not be enough to truly make up for the damage that has already been done. Under many circumstances, civil charges can be pursued in addition to criminal charges to further penalize a negligent driver and compensate victims.

Source: WKBW, "Cracking Down on Wrong Way Driving on Highways," March 14, 2013

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