Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday DWI Patrols in the Capital Region

Watch out everyone and make sure to have a designated driver or other plan if you will be out drinking this holiday season. Mid-December on into the new year is prime time for DWI patrols and local police as well as State Troopers will be holding several announced, as well as unannounced, traffic stops where they will be checking for intoxicated drivers and other vehicle-related crimes.

In fact, YNN is reporting today that an unannounced DWI patrol was held this past weekend. The stop resulted in approximately 29 arrests and hundreds of stops. These are often held in high-traffic areas in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, & Saratoga. 

Please feel free to call attorney +Law Office of Randall Kehoe  for a free consultation if you do get into any trouble. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Driving Safely: The Role of Airbags

Defensive driving is always the best method of avoiding injuries from an automobile accident. Avoid the accident in the first place, and you don't have to worry about any of the other complications (including lawsuits, insurance claims, finding a loaner car, getting arrested, on and on). Even the best drivers, however, can become involved in an accident caused by someone else's careless driving or other circumstances not under their control. In a case like that, you'll be grateful for modern safety improvements like stability & traction control, blind-spot alerts, and anti-lock brakes,but let's not forget the pioneers seat belts and airbags.

Airbags have been standard equipment in automobiles in the United States for years. The article that follows explains some basic information that you may or many not know about the invention, function, and usefulness of airbags in regards to our safety while driving. Many thanks for Janice Lincoln for providing it for us.

How are airbags activated and how can they improve car safety?

Car airbags have become almost a standard fitment on today's vehicles, yet the nearest most of us get to coming into contact with one is watching the TV footage of them being tested under laboratory conditions.

This, of course, is a good thing, but it's important to appreciate how, in the event of a sudden impact, an airbag can protect us from potential harm.

Airbags were first fitted to a car in the 1950s, but the early variants had limited success, due to them using compressed air, which could not inflate the bag quickly enough to make them effective in a high-speed crash. 

Ex-US Navy industrial engineer John W Hetrick designed the first air cushion which we would recognise as an antecedent of the modern airbag, working in conjunction with many of America's leading car makers, while in Japan, Yasuzaburou Kobori was awarded patents in 14 countries for a design he devised in 1963 – but it had still not been widely applied when he died 12 years later.

The airbag requires some form of detonation in order for it to be able to release the gas which fills the bag and thereby protects a car's occupants from hitting any of the hard components on its dashboard.

This explosion is triggered when electronic sensors in the car detect that it is slowing down at at least a minimum rate. These sensors activate a switch, which then completes an electrical circuit, and in turn sets off an explosion inside the airbag, causing it to inflate. In essence, it is like a sudden shock which causes the detonation of a bomb.

The explosion causes the airbag to be very quickly filled with nitrogen, which inflates it at such pressure that it breaks out from the compartment in which it is housed and protects the part of the occupant's body which it is intended to shield.

The exterior of an airbag is made of a fabric similar to nylon, which, by all reports, has quite an abrasive surface. This is caused by the hundreds of tiny ventilation holes in the bag, which serve to let the bag deflate quickly after it has been deployed and done its job.

The gas in the airbag simply escapes through these holes, and it deflates slowly once it has provided the cushioning effect which is needed to help prevent injury.

The positioning of airbags is carefully designed to be the optimum for protecting parts of the body where the car occupant's bones are at greatest risk of being broken through coming into contact with the hard surfaces and components of the vehicle's interior.

Therefore, airbags have been developed to protect many areas inside a car, and today are commonly fitted at head or chest level directly in front of each passenger, in the door sills so that they can deploy in the event of a side impact, to the car's B-pillars (the vertical strip which runs between the front and rear doors), and in the roof lining so that they descend to provide protection for the heads of the vehicle's occupants.

Many people are surprised that airbags will be activated at relatively low speeds, but it is the case that many minor injuries are prevented by the use of these bags, simply because greater injuries are often caused by a car's occupants coming into contact with interior fittings of a car than by the impact of the car with another object itself.

This guest blog was contributed by Janice Lincoln a freelance writer who enjoys writing about all things automotive including where to find the best car finance for bad credit.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to get a warning, not a ticket (New York version)

This weekend, Mr. Kehoe read an MSN article with this same title (minus the New York reference, of course). It was only marginally helpful and was obviously produced to sell insurance-related ads as it mentions the word "insurance" 40 times and seems to only glance the supposed topic of the article instead of being a useful resource on the topic. It was helpful, however, in the sense that it inspired us to write our own article in which we hopefully do a better job of explaining how to get a warning, instead of a ticket, when you get pulled over in New York.

Our office has been taking Vehicle & Traffic law cases for over 22 years. We are based in downtown Albany but represent clients in courts throughout almost the entire state of New York - from the mid Hudson Valley counties all the way north to Plattsburgh and the Canadian border. On the east, we go to the Massachusetts border and west to Chautauqua County. We have handled thousands of cases and listened to the accounts of thousands more motorists who have been pulled over for violating local traffic laws. We have argued and negotiated with the very State Troopers and other law enforcement agents who are responsible for prosecuting these cases. I mention this not as a bragging point, but to give some idea of our credibility regarding what I'm about to explain.

Like the MSN article says, the officer has full discretion to issue a warning and send you on your way OR to write the ticket, but there are several factors that may be considered and eventually determine what happens.

Why You Are Being Stopped

If you are pulled over for making a right-hand turn without signaling, you are much more likely to get a break than someone street racing at 100+mph in a school zone. Vehicle & Traffic laws (which include speeding and signaling) are put in place to provide order and safety to everyone on the road. If you are caught doing something that is particularly egregious or puts other people in danger, law enforcement officers are not going to be amused. In our experience, these public servants take their jobs very seriously and will not hesitate to prosecute to the full extent of the law, especially when it involves someone who appears to have no regard for the law or its officials. This brings us to our next point.

Your Attitude & Excuses

Don't tell the officer that you have a meeting to attend, are late to a funeral, or are just trying to get to the next exit to find a bathroom. They've heard it all. Even if it is true, stop for a minute and think about how many excuses and outright lies these officers hear every single day. Most Troopers appreciate a good attitude and some good old-fashioned honesty. They are not in the business of issuing false tickets (although it does happen) and they are not just there to collect revenue (although that may be part of it). Either way, when you get pulled over, the brief moment you have to interact with the officer at the window is not the time to "put up your dukes" and start a crusade against the Vehicle & Traffic laws. If you got caught, accept your ticket and learn about the great system New York state has for reducing or waiving your charges. If you want a fight, save it for later and hire a lawyer. If you want a warning, keep your self-righteous attitude and excuses to yourself. Officers are much more likely to give warnings to citizens that are cooperative, courteous, and in some cases, candid.

Your Driving History

It may be somewhat of a Catch 22, but if you already have a clean driving history you are more likely to keep it that way. Drivers with no points have an easier time securing reductions on their tickets and qualifying for diversion programs that provide for outright dismissal of charges. In fact, many Traffic Diversion Programs require you to have no speeding ticket convictions in the past 18 months in order to even qualify.  When you get pulled over, the officer can do a quick search of your driving history - and may do so before you're even stopped. If your license is suspended, if you have recently plead guilty to a traffic offense (especially if it was the same law for which you are being pulled over), or if you already have points, you are much less likely to get a warning. A bad driving history says that you are a problematic driver, putting people in danger and/or disregarding state traffic law. If that seems like the case, don't count on getting a break.

No Luck With a Warning? There is Still Hope

Fortunately, even if you don't get a warning you can still probably get a reduction or even have your ticket dismissed. New York state requires that you answer your ticket with a plea of Guilty or Not Guilty before any penalties like fines and points are assigned. In most cases, you can hire an attorney to apply for a reduction of your charges and save a ton of money and keep your driving history clean. Some counties, like Broome and Livingston, have Traffic Diversion programs. These programs will guarantee a dismissal of your charges if you complete the requirements (and can qualify). Most require you to pay a fee and take a defensive driving course.

Remember, if you feel that you are not guilty of the charges entered against you, you have the right to demand a trial. You will be able to face your accuser and testify before the judge that you were not speeding. When attending court, be sure to dress appropriately and be respectful. Your attorney should be able to advise you on everything else. If you're still shopping attorneys, feel free to contact us. We'll be happy to take a few minutes to get to know your case and give you an honest quote and evaluation.