Gov. Charlie Baker is recommending adoption of a state panel’s recommendation of a series of efforts to combat drunk driving. The measures target marijuana specifically, and would revoke a driver’s license for refusal to submit to testing when suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana.beerbottles-300x206

The commission, which included law enforcement, defense attorneys and civil rights activists, made 19 recommendations in response to passage of the 2016 ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana. Our Boston injury lawyers have written about the increasing risk of traffic collisions with intoxicated motorists under the influence of a substance other than alcohol. Such risks continue to increase because of relaxed marijuana laws and the opioid epidemic.

Recommendations include more drug-intoxication training for officers and changes aimed at better enforcement of marijuana possession and open-container laws.

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Our drunk driving injury lawyers in Massachusetts are following legal efforts aimed at drunk drivers across New England as the 2019 legislative session begins in earnest.

Massachusetts ranks in the middle of the pack, placing 22nd in a scoring of legal efforts in all 50 states to reduce the risk of drunk driving collisions. And, while the Commonwealth ranked 13th when it comes to criminal penalties for violators, we ranked just 44th in the nation when it comes to prevention efforts, only Iowa, Montana, Idaho, and North and South Dakota Ranked worse. When it comes to criminal penalties, Massachusetts got relatively high marks for felony DUI prosecutions and life-time look-back when it comes to taking into account previous drunk driving convictions. However, no mandatory minimum sentences for first time offenses and a relatively short 90-day administrative license suspension reduced our score.beers

Washington D.C. tied for dead last when it comes to prevention efforts, the consequences of which are becoming apparent. WJLA News in Washington, D.C., reports the number of drunk-driving deaths is on the rise in the nation’s capital, despite fewer drunk-driving crashes being reported to police. Despite fewer crashes, the number of deaths increased dramatically, from 59 in 2016 to 86 in 2017. In many cases, enforcement statistics are a measure of enforcement efforts.

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CBS4 Boston rang in the new year by asking why Massachusetts does not have tougher drunk driving laws.

It’s a fair question and an admirable focus as we enter 2019.

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As we reported earlier this fall on our Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, relaxed marijuana laws and the opioid crisis have increased the risk drivers will be involved in a traffic collision with an at-fault driver impaired by drugs.

In response, Massachusetts launched a statewide campaign in December to target stoned drivers. Massachusetts has 155 officers certified as drug recognition officers and 1,402 trained in advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement, according to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, which is also providing funding to 139 local law enforcement departments for stringent impaired-driving enforcement efforts that will include sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols at high-incident locations.

In Massachusetts, more than 800 drivers were cited in 2018 for driving under the influence of drugs, Channel 22 News reported.

The risks are particularly high this week. Both Christmas and New Year’s Day are among the five most dangerous holidays for traffic accidents, according to the American Safety Council. Increased enforcement is scheduled to run through Jan. 1.

But it’s what we do as a state in 2019 that will have an ever greater impact on road safety.

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‘Tis the season for holiday parties.

Whether you are out enjoying the season with friends and family, at your company holiday party, or entertaining guests at a restaurant or in your home, we urge you to celebrate responsibly. Not only can you help prevent a holiday tragedy, you will also reduce your chances of being found responsible for accident or injury, particularly in cases where alcohol is involved.christmas-300x225

In recent years, particular emphasis has been placed on employer liability for employee conduct at company holiday parties.

The American Bar Association notes an increasing number of cases nationwide involve traffic collisions or other injury that occurs after a holiday party. In 2013, the ABA even published “The Little Book of Holiday Law,” to address many of the issues around holiday parties and social host liability.

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More traffic collisions are occurring in states that have relaxed marijuana laws.

The National Transportation Safety Board reported this week that drug-impaired driving is on the rise across the country, and has been blamed for several high-profile incidents, including a crash last year in which authorities report a 20-year-old man crashed his truck into a church bus while under the influence of marijuana and a sedative. Twelve people on the bus were killed.marijuana-plants-225x300

CBS Boston reports a 2017 study found an overall increase in car crashes in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Researchers estimated the frequency of collision claims per insured vehicle year, controlling for differences in other factors that could contribute to an accident, including age, location, job status and weather, and still saw an increase. A second study released this week at the  Alcohol- and Drug-Impaired Driving summit at the insurance institute’s Vehicle Research Center, also found an increase of more than 5 percent in the number of traffic collisions.

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We are entering the most dangerous time of the year for drunk driving crashes.

Drivers will face increased risks of motor-vehicle collisions involving impaired drivers, from the return of kids to class and the start of the fall football season, through the year-end holidays, the return of winter weather and the start of the new year.  Massachusetts has seen a nearly 10 percent increase in alcohol impaired driving fatalities in recent years, as well as an increase in drugged-driving collisions, with marijuana being the most commonly associated drug found on people killed in crashes. More than 80 percent of impaired drivers in fatal crashes were men, and nearly half were between the ages of 21 and 34.beer-taps-300x225

Chelsea Police are using a state grant to increased impaired driving patrols as we enter autumn. Chelsea Record reports police will join law enforcement across the state, including Massachusetts State Police, in participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign.

And Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the U.S. Department of Transportation are already readying holiday awareness campaigns.

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Riding a motorcycle in the Greater Boston area, especially on the shore area south of the city, can be a lot of fun.  Many people enjoy being out on the road and experiencing the thrill and excitement of riding a motorcycle with the wind in their face and being exposed to the elements as this can convey a real sense of freedom.

Boston Drugged Driving Accident However, this exposure also means exposure to a much higher degree of danger of personal injury or even death due to less protection for motorcycle riders as opposed to passengers in cars with crumple zones and numerous airbags in the passenger compartment of a traditional vehicle. However, if a negligent driver, or even a driver who is drunk or on drugs causes a serious or fatal crash involving a motorcycle, it is not the fault of the motorcycle rider just because he chooses to use a comparatively more dangerous means of transportation.  Continue reading

According to recent news article from CNN, Katie Arrington was involved in a fatal drunk driving collision as she was on the campaign trail to be a South Carolina representative in the U.S. House. In this accident, the alleged drunk driver hit her head-on and died as a result of the accident.  Arrington was left with serious personal injuries and spent time in the hospital.

Boston Drunk Driving Accident Authorities have alleged the 69-year-old female driver was operating her motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .153 grams of ethanol per hundred milliliters of blood. This is nearly two times the legal limit of 0.08.  The legal limit is 0.08 not only in the jurisdiction in which this alleged fatal drunk driving accident occurred, but also across the nation, including Boston. Continue reading

Most Boston drunk driving accidents involve one or more personally owned vehicle.  They also typically occur late at night or in the overnight hours after the bars close since this is the most likely time for someone to be out on the road while drunk.  While this is certainly the norm in terms of Boston drunk driving crashes, it is not the only time drunk driving accidents occur in Boston and around the nation and not every accident involves  personal vehicles.

Boston drunk Driving In some cases, we have seen drivers of vehicles, such as a semi tractor trailer or other large commercial vehicle, involved in a Massachusetts drunk driving collision.  Because of the size of these commercial vehicles,  there is so much weight that is transferred into energy in a crash that smaller vehicles and pedestrians or bike riders do not really stand a chance.  These vehicles also take a lot longer to stop than a standard passenger vehicle. Continue reading

With Memorial Day upon us it is a good time to talk about the risk of teen drunk driving accidents as we head into the summer months.

Drunk Driving Car Accident Statistics involving Fatalities in Boston

Drunk driving is not only very dangerous to the person behind the wheel, it presents a grave danger to anyone else on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records indicate more than 10,000 people die each year in the U.S. from alcohol-related traffic crashes.  This number means on average, one person will be killed by a drunk driver nearly every 50 minutes of every day.  Not only is this unacceptable in terms of lives lost, it results in cost to society of around $44 billion each year. There are a variety of factors which make up this cost, but the costs to the victims and their families can be astronomical in terms of  money and emotional pain.  We must remember for each Boston drunk driving accident death, there is a family who is left behind to deal with the pain and suffering. Even in cases which do not prove fatal, there can be tremendous pain and suffering and lives may be altered forever.

Boston drunk drivingIn some cases, it is the passengers in the drunk driver’s vehicle and in other cases, it is pedestrians and drivers or passengers in other vehicles. Due to the higher level of recklessness we tend to see in Boston drunk driving accidents, as compared to accidents in which defendant was acting negligent, but still sober, we tend to see much more severe personal injury.  These are all factors which can make a Boston drunk driving crash more complex from a legal perspective. Continue reading