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New York Won’t Arrest You for Drinking Alcohol in Public—But Does This Put Pedestrian Safety at Risk?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2017 | Firm News

NEW YORK. In March, the New York Times announced that individuals would no longer be arrested for minor crimes, like drinking in public. If the police determine that offenders don’t pose a risk to public safety, individuals will only receive summonses. However, if officers won’t be taking drunk pedestrians off city streets, could this pose a risk to public safety?

Walking while drunk can lead to pedestrian errors that can lead to deadly accidents. According to the New York City government, pedestrians are ten times more likely to die in a car accident than passengers inside motor vehicles. While drivers are required to yield to pedestrians, if pedestrians are drunk, they may be less likely to look before crossing the street, less likely to obey traffic signals, and more likely to behave erratically.

Pedestrians are more at risk when an accident takes place because they don’t have the protective chassis of a car. They can suffer serious injuries like traumatic head injury, broken bones, and other debilitating trauma. 71% of New York City’s road users are considered “vulnerable road users.” These users include bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists. More people rely on these modes of transportation to get to work, school, and activities than any other mode of transportation.

While drivers are required to abide by road rules, pedestrians may jaywalk or break pedestrian laws without facing citations. However, jaywalking and other illegal acts can create potentially dangerous situations. While officers won’t bring people into jail for public drinking, officers will still have discretion about whether to bring someone in if they believe they are a threat to public safety. The reality is that most pedestrian accidents are the result of driver error. According to the New York City government, driver inattention was to blame in 36% of crashes that led to pedestrians being seriously injured or killed. Another 27% of pedestrian accidents occurred when a driver failed to yield.

Many accidents occur on major streets rather than on small local streets. The city of New York has been working to redesign street crossings to make them safer for pedestrians. While New York City is among the safest cities for its size when it comes to road safety, pedestrian and vehicle accidents can still have an immense impact on families and victims. Victims may miss time from work, have to undergo long periods of rehabilitation or hospitalization, and may experience immense pain and suffering. The city loses productive workers and families may struggle to make ends meet after a crash.

Fortunately, you have rights under the law if you’ve been injured in a car accident in New York. Antin, Ehrlich, & Epstein, L.L.P. are personal injury attorneys in New York City who work with victims and families to help them see the justice they may deserve under the law. Visit our firm at to learn more about how we can help you if you’ve been hurt in a pedestrian accident.