Articles Posted in Drunk Driving Accidents

Driving under the influence (DUI) places the intoxicated driver and everyone else on the road at risk of injury or death. Intoxicated drivers lack the physical and mental capacity to control their vehicles, increasing the risk of a serious accident. When a DUI accident does occur, the victim or their loved ones may decide to hold the driver accountable by filing a negligence lawsuit.

According to a recent news article, four Maine Maritime students were killed, and three were injured in a DUI accident in Castine, Maine. The driver and six passengers were leaving from a night out around 2a.m. when he veered off Route 166. The driver hit a tree, and the vehicle burst into flames. Four passengers died in the crash. Three others, including the driver, were injured. Following an investigation, local police determined that the driver was speeding and driving under the influence. The driver faces several criminal charges, including four counts of manslaughter.

How Can You Sue for Wrongful Death After a Maine DUI Accident?

Maine allows negligence lawsuits for wrongful death after an accident. According to Maine law, the deceased’s personal representative or special administrator can bring a wrongful death action. However, the deceased’s dependents receive the ultimate damages award. A plaintiff can bring a wrongful death claim against a defendant so long as the deceased could have sued the defendant if they survived. Consequently, the plaintiff must prove the same elements of negligence against the defendant as if the deceased brought the claim. To find the defendant liable for damages, the jury or judge must find that the defendant’s negligence led to the victim’s harm by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it is more likely than not.

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Weekend nights in Maine cities and towns can present an increased danger for traffic accidents and the injuries that the accidents may cause. In addition to the increased traffic resulting from social events, weekend nights also see an increase in drivers who are operating their vehicles while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Alcohol use increases reaction time while impairing judgment and decision-making, significantly increasing the risk of serious consequences from an auto accident. Alcohol appears to have been a factor in a recent multi-car collision near Standish that left several people injured earlier this month.

According to a local news report, the recent crash occurred on a Friday night earlier this month. The driver of a Scion coupe attempted to pass another driver in a pickup truck on Bonnie Eagle Road in Standish when he lost control of the vehicle and veered into oncoming traffic. The Scion driver then crashed head-on into a separate pickup truck. The first truck then collided with both other vehicles, and the coupe ended up crashing into a tree on the side of the road. Although the pictures included in the article show a destructive scene, none of the drivers or occupants involved in the crash were seriously killed, however, several people were transported to local hospitals for treatment. In a statement to the press, local law enforcement officers said that speed and alcohol likely played a role in the cause of the crash.

Drunk drivers and people operating vehicles under the influence of other intoxicating drugs pose a significant threat to other drivers on Maine roads. Drugs and alcohol impair driving skills and decision-making abilities, and drunk drivers are more likely to speed and be involved in dangerous accidents. Drivers who cause an accident may be liable for criminal prosecution for DUI, or even assault charges filed by the state. Victims of a Maine DUI accident are entitled to financial compensation from a drunk or reckless driver who causes a crash. Dangerous drivers need to be held accountable for their reckless decisions, and accident victims should consult with a Maine personal injury attorney to pursue a civil case for damages after a crash.

Drunk and impaired driving continues to pose serious hazards throughout the country. Despite widespread public service campaigns about the dangers of drunk driving and enhanced law enforcement presence, drunk driving continues to be a problem in Maine.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Independence Day week was forecasted to be the deadliest in 2022. Previously from 2016 to 2020, there were over 1300 fatalities over the Fourth of July period, and over 40% of the drivers who died were drunk. Thus, motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and anyone else using the road over the Fourth of July weekend should use special care to avoid an accident.

Of course, no amount of care can avoid every accident. Drunk drivers, by definition, are operating with impaired judgment. Thus, these accidents tend to occur randomly and without any advance notice. A drunk driver may run through a red light, cross over the median, or drift up onto the sidewalk, giving potential victims almost no time to react.

In Maine, operating under the influence (OUI) refers to drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 30 people die in drunk driving accidents every day. These preventable deaths take a toll on victims, their families, and the community as a whole. Those who have suffered injuries or whose loved ones died because of a drunk, or impaired driver may be able to recover compensation for their damages.

Alcohol reduces brain function, including a person’s ability to effectively reason, think, and control their muscles. These abilities are critical to operating a vehicle safely, and any impairment can have disastrous consequences. An increase in a person’s alcohol level simultaneously negatively affects their central nervous system functioning. Even a tiny amount of alcohol can affect a person’s driving ability. Further, interactions between alcohol and other substances can increase impairment and the likelihood of an accident.

For instance, local news reports provided details regarding a multi-vehicle crash in Maine. According to Deputies, an SUV driver veered into the center line and slammed into a dump truck, a Hyundai, and then a Silverado. Emergency responders transported the SUV driver’s occupants and the Silverado driver to a local hospital for treatment. An investigation reveals that alcohol impairment and speed may contribute to the accident.

Earlier this week, a collision in Portland, ME nearly claimed the life of a Portland woman. According to a recent news report, the collision occurred on Interstate 295, near mile marker 6. Evidently, at around 1:30 am, police began receiving reports of a car traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of I-295.

Before police could respond to the calls, they received another report of a head-on collision in Falmouth, just a few miles from where callers reported seeing the wrong-way driver. The woman who was heading southbound was taken to the hospital in serious condition. She is expected to recover.

Police are still investigating the accident, however, they told reporters that they believe the wrong-way driver was intoxicated. He now faces aggravated DUI charges.

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Like many states, Maine maintains a “dram shop” law that allows injury victims to recover compensation from a host or alcohol vendor who provides alcohol to an intoxicated person who ends up causing an accident. Maine’s “Liquor Liability Act,” provides that vendors who are licensed to sell or serve alcohol may be liable for recklessly or negligently providing alcohol to someone who is intoxicated or under 21 years old.

Negligent alcohol service occurs when the server should have known that the patron was intoxicated or under the legal drinking age. Recklessness occurs if the server served alcohol and knew the person was under 21 years old or drunk, and they disregarded a substantial and apparent risk of harm to the individual or another person. In these cases, the vendor may be liable for the intoxicated person’s negligent or reckless conduct towards another individual. Typical vendors in these cases are restaurants, bars, and pubs.

For example, a news report recently described an incident where a 19-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, hitting a curb and flipping his Subaru onto its side. The driver did not suffer injuries, but two of his passengers were taken to a hospital for treatment. The teenager was speeding, under the influence of alcohol and failed to obey road signs when the accident occurred. In a case like this, a social host or vendor who served the underage driver may be liable for the passengers’ injuries and damages.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducts research, compiles records, and provides the public with data regarding relevant health and safety issues. One important health and safety issue that the CDC reports on is the rate and circumstances surrounding drunk driving accidents in Maine. Impaired driving is one of the most harrowing traffic risks in the United States, resulting in thousands of deaths every year. According to the most recent data, more than 15,000 people nationwide have received impaired driving charges, and over 100 people die every year in Maine because of an impaired driver.

For example, recently, a Maine couple died after a drunk driver collided with them when they were on their way to pick-up their young daughter from a play date. According to a recent report, state police were in the process of responding to calls reporting an erratic driver when they received notice that there was a two-vehicle crash. Emergency officials said that the erratic SUV driver crossed a double-yellow line and collided with the couple. The couple died upon impact, and police believe that the at-fault driver was under the influence of alcohol and speeding.

In response to the rising rate of Maine drunk driving accidents, such as the one above, Maine lawmakers have employed various strategies to reduce and prevent impaired driving. Some policies include implementing zero-tolerance laws when people under 21 drive with any alcohol in their system. Further, Maine permits police officials to engage in sobriety checks. Police can stop drivers in visible locations and conduct breath tests if they have reason to suspect that the driver is under the influence. Moreover, courts may require that convicted impaired drivers equip their vehicles with ignition interlock systems. Also, Maine has promoted community coalitions, media campaigns, interventions, and school programs to thwart the rising rate of drunk driving accidents.

Drunk driving in Maine isn’t limited to any one night, but the night of the Super Bowl is known as one of the biggest drinking nights of the year. The festivities this year led to a Maine drunk driving crash in York. A 29-year-old man was arrested for operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor, according to The Bangor Daily News. The incident, in which the driver crashed into three parked cars along Route 1, occurred soon after the Super Bowl ended.

An analysis conducted by Scram Systems (a personal alcohol-monitoring device) found that drunk driving violations by repeat drunk drivers who are court-ordered to stay sober spikes an average of 22 percent on Super Bowl Sunday, compared to typical Sunday violation rates. This was based on data analysis from 530,000 DUI offenders who are on probation or parole and court-ordered to wear the alcohol monitoring bracelets, usually on their ankles.

Violations reportedly spiked the last 9 of 11 Super Bowl Sundays. Not all areas were equally problematic, though. For example, when the Patriots played in 2015, drinking violations in New England soared to two times higher than the rest of the country and more than 100 percent higher than a usual Sunday for that given region. And when the Denver Broncos were in the Super Bowl, Colorado offenders, who comprise 4 percent of the monitored populations, were responsible for 13 percent of the violations on game day. The analysis further discovered it seems as if the winners tend to drink more than the losers. On average, violations among offenders who represented the champions’ fans were approximately 75 percent higher than those whose residences were home to the losing team. Continue reading

New Year’s Eve signals the end of a year, but too often and for too many on Maine roads, it signals the end of life. On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, nearly half of motor vehicle fatalities are attributed to alcohol-impaired drivers, compared to the annual average, which is about 30 percent. That’s according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) – and it doesn’t include the number who survive, but may suffer permanent, disabling injury. Our Portland drunk driving injury attorneys encourage all drivers to be safe and sober this holiday, especially given our state ranks No. 9 for the most drunk driving deaths per 100 million miles traveled.

Complicating matters this year is the fact voters in 2016 approved legalized recreational marijuana sales (now codified in IB 2015, c. 5). Although implementation of the law has moved at a snail’s pace and there is no business yet approved to sell the drug commercially if it’s not for medicinal use, it is legal for one adult to give it to another. (Some marijuana dispensaries in Portland and elsewhere in Maine have used this loophole to “give” away marijuana, yet charge a delivery fee – the legality of which under state law is questionable, as reported by WGME 13.) The bottom line is that more people in Maine – and thus more drivers – may be under the influence of marijuana.

One recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found traffic accidents have risen about 6 percent in states that have legalized recreational marijuana compared to neighboring states that still outlaw the drug. Random roadside tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that about 22 percent of motorists showed evidence of drug use. In Washington state (which, along with Maine, is one of eight that has legalized recreational marijuana), one-fourth of all traffic deaths in 2016 involved drivers who mixed drugs and alcohol – most commonly alcohol with marijuana, the latter of which is known to slow driver reaction times, impair visual perception and blunt cognitive judgment.

Bangor has a new weapon in the fight against drunk driving after the passage of a citywide ordinance that requires servers and sellers of alcohol to undergo training about state laws. WABI TV reports the new ordinance comes after Bangor police recently issued nearly 70 citations for alcohol-related incidents. Police report seven convenience stores sold to minors during a recent enforcement blitz. Six bars permitted minors into the business and then sold them alcohol.

Bangor’s Public Health and Community Services Department reports the new training is aimed at reducing instances of sales to minors or intoxicated patrons.

Maine Drunk Driving Accident Prevention in Focus 

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