In Maine, those charged with Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence (OUI) may face serious criminal and civil penalties for any ensuing damages and injuries caused by impaired driving. An OUI refers to a motorist operating their vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher. The threshold may vary depending on the type of vehicle the driver was operating.
In most personal injury and wrongful death claims, the injury victim or deceased’s estate must establish all the elements of negligence claims. In some cases, the at-fault party is the person operating the vehicle that the victim was a passenger. However, in Maine, passengers have the same right to recovery regardless of whether they were in the vehicle with the at-fault driver.
While the law permits the claim, injured passengers should be cognizant of how the state’s comparative negligence laws may play into their cases. In Maine, the law may bar a plaintiff’s action if their negligence is equal to or greater than the defendant’s. Unlike other states, a violation of a statute does not constitute negligence per se. However, the evidence may be used to support a negligence claim. Cases involving OUIs can present challenges to plaintiffs, especially if the defendant or other party claims that the plaintiff knew that the driver was under the influence. However, Maine law explains that a plaintiff’s awareness of a danger which results in his injury is not an absolute bar to recovery. This frequently comes up when an injured passenger knew that the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.