Drunk driving accidents and the devastating injuries and deaths they cause are 100 percent preventable.
Maine legislators believe this as well, which is why criminal penalties for causing an accident while drunk are severe – especially if someone is seriously hurt or killed. Maine Revised Statute 29-A, Section 2411 spells out penalties for OUI offenses, aggravating factors and penalties. Generally, if you are in an accident that results in a major injury or death, you will be facing a felony and a long-term license suspension.
But how does that help the victims, whose lives have been irreparably affected? Other than ensuring the at-fault driver is off the road, it really doesn’t. The only way to recover damages is to pursue a claim for damages against the driver (and by proxy his insurance company). If the driver doesn’t have insurance or the coverage is paltry, victims may recover through their own uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage policy.
A recent example of the tragedy OUI can have on the lives of others, consider the recent case of a Southwest Harbor man who just pleaded guilty in federal court to numerous felony charges for his actions in causing a motor vehicle crash in 2014.
According to The Bangor Daily News, the now-28-year-old defendant was drunk when he lost control of his car in Acadia National Park and drove off Seal Cove Road. He slammed into a patch of trees, resulting in serious injury to his passenger.
The passenger had to be flown by emergency helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where he had to undergo emergency surgery for his injuries.
Defendant was charged by federal prosecutors because the incident happened in a national park. Initially, misdemeanor charges were filed – even though his blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash was .14, nearly double the legal limit of .08. However, prosecutors added the felony charge of operating under the influence of intoxicants causing serious bodily injury.
This was after prosecutors were made aware of the fact that passenger’s injuries were more severe than originally reported. It was only after the U.S. attorney’s office found out the passenger had been paid $97,000 in a Maine OUI accident lawsuit settlement that they decided to up the charges against defendant. Prior to that, they didn’t know the passenger suffered an extended period of convalescence and permanent disfigurement and loss of function.
The passenger had to be outfitted with a titanium rod in his leg. His scar extends about 12 inches down his thigh, and he told park rangers in a supplemental interview that he was forced to undergo physical therapy for three months after the crash. He also had to quit his job working at a local inn and now walks with a limp. It’s probable he will need additional surgery in the years to come.
Defendant, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to OUI causing serious injury, operating a vehicle absent due care and destruction of trees and natural resources. He faces a maximum $250,000 fine plus six years in prison.
His sentence will be handled down after the court reviews federal prosecutors’ pre-sentence investigation report.
If you have been injured in a Maine drunk driving accident, contact our injury lawyers in Bangor today to learn more about how we can help you recover for your losses.
Contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Driver in Acadia van crash pleads guilty to OUI causing injury, Feb. 23, 2016, Staff Report, Bangor Daily News