There is plenty of publicity about the dangers of drunk driving, especially around the holidays. You may see public service announcements on TV or hear them on the radio. You may also go out over the holidays and see how much some people are drinking and wonder how they’ll get home. All too often they’ll get in their cars and drive, endangering themselves, their passengers, those in other vehicles and pedestrians.

In the early morning on December 28, 2007, three days after Christmas and three days before New Year’s Eve, Heather Pinheiro, 20, was driving her Honda Civic north on Route 1 at the intersection of Black Horse Lane in South Brunswick, reports In the car with her was her cousin, Kylie Pinheiro, 18, a freshman at High Point University in North Carolina. Another cousin, Melissa Pinheiro, 21, was also in the vehicle. It was the holidays, a break between college semesters. Maybe they were talking about their plans for the new year or how Christmas went.

Also on Route 1 was Kimberly Green. Her blood alcohol level was later measured at 0.159%, nearly twice the state’s legal limit. Green was driving her Mitsubishi sedan when she drove through two red lights before striking the Honda Civic holding the Pinheiro cousins. She was driving at about 75 miles per hour.

Witnesses testified during a month-long trial in 2008 that Green didn’t slow down when she approached the red light at Black Horse Lane. Pinheiro’s car had the green light. It was crossing Route 1 when Green’s car broadsided it.

Kylie Pinheiro died at the scene. A bystander came to help and heard her last words, a request to hold her hands, which he did. Then her eighteen-year-long life ended. The two other cousins were seriously injured and later needed surgeries and lengthy hospital stays due to fractured bones.

Green was convicted of vehicular homicide and assault by auto and sentenced in November 2010 to serve twelve years in prison. Before issuing the sentence, Superior Court Judge Michael Toto heard more than forty minutes of tearful statements from Pinheiro’s friends and relatives. About forty of them were in the courtroom at the time. Toto called Green’s actions “as reckless as you could be behind the wheel of a car.”

Green, the mother of two children, aged 15 and 11 at the time, had about twenty-five people in the courtroom to support her. In their statements, Green’s parents and Kylie Pinheiro’s parents acknowledged both families suffered because of the accident.

Though the numbers increase around the holidays, on average about thirty Americans are killed by drunk drivers each day. In December 2007, Kylie Pinheiro became one of those Americans.

There’s enough carnage on the roads. We see it all the time in our clients’ cases. Don’t do anything to make it worse — especially don’t drink and drive during the holidays. Whatever your situation may be, either don’t drink or don’t drive. It’s simply not worth the risk.

If you have been injured or lost a family member in an accident caused by a drunk driver, the legal system can’t go back in time and prevent the accident. But through a successful personal injury lawsuit injuries, property damage and economic losses can be paid by the responsible parties (which may include not only the driver but also those who served him or her alcohol).Time limits apply, so contact our office today, (973) 358-6134