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Greater Driver Accountability Urged by Grieving Massachusetts Father

A 20-year-old student studying physical therapy at Simmons College was killed on Father’s Day while jogging along a road in Sharon. The vehicle that caused her death was driven by a man who never should have been behind the wheel because his license was suspended.
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Now, the student’s father has become an advocate to press Massachusetts state lawmakers to pass a measure he hopes will help boost enforcement against derelict drivers. It would require the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles to issue a notification to local police when a person’s license is suspended. This would allow officers to watch for that person’s vehicle, in the event he or she decides to venture out anyway.

Testifying before the state’s Transportation Committee recently, the father spoke of his family’s struggle to make it through another day without his daughter. He said a driver operating a suspended or revoked vehicle is “an immediate threat to public safety,” warranting a higher degree of action.

Another reason our Boston drunk driving accident lawyers believe such action is so vitally important has to do with the fact that if a driver’s license has been revoked, he or she is not covered by insurance. That means if the driver wrecks and causes serious injury or death, insurance options are severely limited. An injured person could seek compensation directly from the driver. Under certain circumstances, there may be grounds to pursue liability action against the owner of the vehicle (if different from the driver) or from a bar or restaurant that served alcohol to the driver just prior to the crash. But there are many variables in such instances.

More likely, compensation will come in the form of the injured party’s own auto insurance. This is true even when the injured or wrongfully killed person was a bicyclist or pedestrian via uninsured (or underinsured) motorist coverage. While some states make this kind of coverage mandatory in all policies, Massachusetts is not among them. However, such coverage is invaluable when involved in an accident with a driver whose license is suspended or revoked. It kicks in to cover all damages (up to the liability limit) that isn’t covered by the other party’s insurer. In a case where the driver had no insurance, it may be the only option available to the injured party.

Even if you have this coverage, you still might need an attorney, as insurance companies often initially offer to settle for far less than what customers are entitled to receive.

Of course, it would be preferable if these drivers could be kept off the road in the first place. That’s the goal of this new legislation, sponsored by State Rep. Louis Kafka, D-Stoughton. The lawmaker said next year, he has plans to introduce a series of roadway reforms that would increase punishments for drunk drivers, especially those who are repeat offenders.

The measure notifying police of local suspended drivers, the representative noted, would give police one more tool to combat the problem. Plus, the information is readily available in public records as it is. Although officers can find the status of a vehicle owner’s license while on patrol, this measure would allow commanders to alert officers about residents with suspended licenses at roll call.

It should be noted drivers arrested for DUI receive an automatic license suspension. The at-fault driver in this case is believed by authorities to have consumed two-to-three alcoholic drinks before getting behind the wheel.

No one testified in opposition to the bill.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Father of college student killed while jogging urges Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles to notify local police when driver’s license suspended, Aug. 6, 2014, By Andy Metzger, State House News Service
More Blog Entries:
Alleged Drunk Driver Crashes into Saugus, Massachusetts Home, Aug. 21, 2014, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog