Order unanimously affirmed with costs.
In the absence of prejudice to the nonmoving party and where the amendment is not "plainly lacking in merit" (Sabol & Rice v Poughkeepsie Galleria Co., 175 A.D.2d 555, 556), leave to amend pleadings should be "freely given" (CPLR 3025 [b]). In light of the facts that defendant, who had a serious long-term alcohol problem, drove her automobile at the time of the accident with a blood alcohol level of .23%; was staggering and needed support to walk when the police arrived; and, by her own admission, drove her automobile when she knew that she was too intoxicated to do so, it cannot be said that plaintiffs' proposed amendment seeking punitive damages is lacking in merit (see, Rinaldo v Mashayekhi, 185 A.D.2d 435, 436). Further, defendant failed to show that she would be prejudiced by the amendment. "Prejudice * * * is not found in the mere exposure of the defendant to greater liability" (Loomis v Civetta Corinno Constr. Corp., 54 N.Y.2d 18, 23, rearg denied 55 N.Y.2d 801).