For many, getting into the holiday spirit involves downing holiday spirits. Although most can responsibly enjoy the indulgence, it’s problematic when those who imbibe get behind the wheel
Last year, nearly 800 Americans died in drunk driving crashes just in December alone last year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports nearly one-third of the 37,500 people killed in car accidents in 2016 were involved in crashes were at least one driver had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.
In Maine, there were almost 500 deaths caused by drunk drivers over a recent nine-year stretch. Approximately 1.2 percent of Maine drivers surveyed admitted to driving while too impaired to do so at least once in the last 30 days. The actual number is likely much higher, as these are only self-admitted cases. The Press Herald in Portland reported earlier this year that more than 16,000 drivers in Maine have had four or more OUI convictions since 1980. More than 80,000 drivers in Maine have more than one OUI conviction. Many of these instances happen around the holidays, when people are more likely to be attending parties and gatherings where alcohol is served. Having a plan for transportation before the festivities is the best way to avoid causing a drunk driving accident.
Title 29-A Section 2411 prohibits operating a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants or having an alcohol level of 0.08 grams per 100 milliliters of blood. It’s not necessary for one to have a BAC of 0.08 or higher to be arrested under this statute, as one can be deemed “under the influence” if his or her normal faculties have been impaired by the substance. This is a criminal offense, obviously, but it can also be an indicator of negligence. Negligence is a breach of one’s duty to use reasonable care, resulting in injury. All drivers must use reasonable care behind the wheel. To drive while under the influence (even just “buzzed”) can be interpreted as failure to use reasonable care while driving.
However, the fact that one was driving drunk and caused a crash doesn’t necessarily mean your civil case will be a slam-dunk victory. That’s because in the civil case, you are not trying to prove “guilt,” you are establishing liability and damages. The question of liability is one that involves “fault,” but it should be noted that Maine follows a system of comparative negligence, per Title 14 Section 156. This means if the defendant (in this case, the drunk driver) shows that you in any way shared part of the blame, your damages can be proportionately reduced. If your share of the fault is more than 50 percent, your case can be dismissed. That’s not usually a problem in most drunk driving cases, but it is something of which to be aware.
Many drunk driving defense lawyers will concede the issue of liability, but will fight hard on the question of damages. That is, they will argue the victim’s losses aren’t as great as asserted, and they will fight for minimal payout. Having an experienced drunk driving accident attorney in Bangor who can carefully analyze the facts of your case and compile compelling evidence to support your damage claim is essential.
If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
In Maine, thousands have 4 or more OUIs, May 22, 2017, By Edward D. Murphy, Press Herald
More Blog Entries:
Wife of Man Who Died in Maine Car Accident Suing Nightclub That Served Drunk Driver, Nov. 1, 2017, Bangor Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog