During the early hours of October 21, 2023, shortly after midnight a fatal alcohol related car accident occurred in Teaneck that left two passengers dead and the intoxicated driver being charged with the death of his two passengers and possession of a controlled dangerous substance. The senseless loss of two lives certainly could have been prevented with a decision to drink responsibly when one contemplates driving. It is sad to say that in 2023 this preventable cause of death and injury still takes lives. Teddy Mejia was apparently drunk when his 2021 BMW M850i crashed into a tree and flipped onto its roof on Teaneck Road near Bilton Street. According to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office both passengers were pronounced dead at the scene.
Every time someone loses their life at the hands of a drunk driver it reminds Teaneck attorney Steven Benvenisti of his college spring break, when as a college senior while crossing a street in Daytona Beach, Florida he was struck by a drunk driver throwing him 70 feet into the air causing a brain injury and shattering his legs. After 10 days in a coma, fifteen surgeries and 6 months of hospitalization he made a full recovery and went on to study law, becoming a New Jersey attorney, and member of the New Jersey Bar.
As a lawyer, he has made it his mission to be an advocate of those injured at the hands of drunk drivers. He has been called upon to be the advocate by many families and people whose lives have been forever affected by drunk drivers. Often, we find that the cause of injury or death started because of the negligence of bartenders and other sellers of alcohol products, such as stadiums and concert venues.
But for Steven Benvenisti, saving lives begins with awareness. He has shared his story in his book, “Spring Break: A True Story of Hope and Determination” and hundreds of times to groups of all ages and demographics with his presentation he calls, “The Most Significant Case of my Career,” where as a keynote speaker he recounts his personal motivational story to thousands of students throughout local high schools and colleges on the dangers of drunk driving through his iPledge campaign. As a motivational speaker he has shared his story to judicial and trial lawyer conferences, along with medical conferences all over the world.
Aside from making the roads safer by eliminating alcohol related crashes and deaths through his seminars, he is an advocate for tougher laws and penalties as a deterrent to drunk driving. He has testified many times before New Jersey Assembly and Senate committees and had been instrumental in passing lifesaving laws. On a state and national level, Steven currently serves as the Chair of the New Jersey (Ny-NJ-PA) Advisory Board of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and previously served on their National Board of Directors.
Steven Benvenisti also serves as the current President of the Board of Trustees of “The Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey.” In this capacity, he works with professionals, dedicated staff, a board, volunteers, and community partners in providing service to over 10,000 New Jersey residents each year.
“For me its personal. With more than 10,000 people still being killed by drunk drivers I speak for those who can no longer be heard to stop this senseless and preventable plague upon innocent people and their families,” said Benvenisti. As we approach the holiday season, he has specific advice to those who enjoy alcohol and desire to drink responsibility:
- Always while sober choose or pre-arrange a designated driver.
- For those traveling alone, use a taxi or public transportation going and coming.
- Hand your keys over to another before you start drinking.
- If you are partying at a friend’s residence plan to stay overnight.
- Don’t ride with someone who had been drinking.
- Watch out for your party’s guests by calling for them a UBER or LYFT.
- Never serve alcohol to anyone underage.
- Always plan ahead so that you can safely enjoy your evening.
- If you have an alcohol problem…get help.
- Take my pledge that is… “If you are ever going to drink do not drive.”
Steven Benvenisti is a partner at the New Jersey injury law firm of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. and is Certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey and is a motivational speaker who can be contacted at 1-800-529-2000 or online at dsslaw.com.