Maine Drunk Drivers Wreak Havoc, April Alcohol Responsibility Month

Impaired drivers in Maine have been wreaking havoc on our roads, causing property damage, serious injury and the loss of innocent victims.

  • In Lincolnville, a 31-year-old crossed the center line and struck an oncoming vehicle, driven by a 58-year-old woman. The man was ejected from his vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, while the woman was rushed to the hospital with injuries. Police suspect the younger driver was speeding and drunk.
  • In Litchfield, a woman was arrested for her fourth DUI after she crashed her vehicle with her son inside. Authorities say her 4-year-old son was inside when she careened into a cluster of trees. Emergency workers had to use a chainsaw to free them. She has 13 prior license suspensions on her record.
  • And in Bangor, a Hudson man has been charged with the New Year’s Day death of his fiancee after he drove his Jeep into a tree, causing his front-seat passenger to be ejected. He is charged with manslaughter and aggravated criminal operating under the influence.

It’s an appropriate time to highlight these cases now for two reasons. The first — April is Alcohol Responsibility month, a time when safe driving advocates seek to highlight the responsible use of alcohol for adult consumers. Secondly, law enforcement agencies in Maine have announced a commitment to step up efforts to arrest repeat offenders.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, more than 1.2 million drivers nationally are arrested for drunk driving.

In Maine, a first offense for OUI (operating under the influence of intoxicants) is merely a $500 fine. The second offense garners a minimum mandatory seven-day jail term, and a fine. It’s only upon the third offense that an offender is charged with a felony and a stiffer jail sentence is imposed.

Consider too that these are merely the instances in which people are caught by police. MADD estimates drivers operate under the influence some 80 times before their first drunk driving arrest.

Two years ago, Maine became the 20th state to pass an all-offender ignition interlock law, meaning even first-time offenders must outfit their vehicles with breathalyzers for a set period of time at their own expense if they wish to resume driving.

The state also carries out regular DUI checkpoints in order to screen drivers for impairment.

While criminal defense attorneys deride these consequences “harsh,” such penalties clearly are less effective than they should be. In the view of our Bangor injury lawyers, what’s really harsh is the loss to the innocent victims, those who refrained from such careless, reckless behaviors, and still suffered serious injuries – or worse.

Drivers with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher are the cause of nearly 30 percent of all traffic deaths in Maine. This costs taxpayers an estimated $235 million in emergency response time, medical costs and losses to society.

The impact to individual families is immeasurable.

What families should know is there are likely numerous avenues of compensation. While in many cases nothing will bring back a loved one or fully restore a victim, a civil lawsuit can result in damages awarded for medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses, pain and suffering and loss of consortium.

If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Lincolnville man killed in head-on crash, April 1, 2015, By Stephen Betts, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Recalled Vehicles Often Remain Unrepaired in Maine, March 30, 2015, Bangor Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog

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