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Framingham DUI Guilty Plea Underscores Ongoing Problem of Drunk Driving

A high-profile Boston drunk driving case recently resulted in conviction, just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday – the No. 1 holiday for drunk driving deaths nationally. While public derision and criminal penalties can serve as powerful deterrents, it doesn’t necessarily make drunk driving victims whole. That’s why our Boston drunk driving accident attorneys are committed to fighting for compensation for victims. Note that civil lawsuits will be handled entirely separate from the criminal case, and a criminal case conviction won’t necessarily result in a civil case win. That’s why you need an experienced DUI injury lawyer.

By now many residents in the Greater Boston area have heard about the DUI arrest that led to a major scandal with the Massachusetts State Police (MSP).  According to a recent news report from the Boston Globe, the daughter of a local judge was detained following an alleged drunk driving accident in Framingham, Massachusetts.  Prosecutors alleged that the arresting state trooper wrote in his police report that the defendant admitted to performing sexual acts for drugs or money and also offered to provide sexual acts on the trooper if he would give her a break on the operating under the influence of liquor and drugs charge she was about to face.

Boston drunk driving accident Prosecutors say the trooper declined her offer and put all this in his report along with her allegedly telling him that her dad was a judge and, “would kill her” if he read what she said in the police report. At this point, prosecutors alleged the trooper was pressured by the state police colonel to remove these allegations from the police report to spare her and her father the embarrassment. There were also requests to remove the allegations from the report with the office of the district attorney. There have been no allegations that her father participated in any way with these efforts to redact the police report.   Her father did however, come to the MSP barracks and picked her up and found her fading in and out of consciousness.  The MSP Colonel resigned in connection with this scandal. 

When she was at the state police barracks, she took a breath test and allegedly blew three times the legal limit.  As our Boston drunk driving accident lawyers can explain, the legal limit to drive a vehicle is 0.08 grams of ethanol per hundred millimeters blood.  However, it should be noted that a person can be below the legal limit and still be too intoxicated to safely drive motor vehicle and this can be used to prove a drunk driving car accidnet was caused by negligence in a civil car accident lawsuit in the Suffolk Superior Court.  This is the state court of proper jurisdiction for cases in Boston and other cities in Suffolk County such as Revere or Chelsea.

To make matters worse, according to prosecutors, she had told police she was drinking liquor from mini bottles that day and using heroin.  She allegedly told troopers she had a fight with her boyfriend that day because he tried to use their heroin himself instead of sharing it with her and she had what drugs users and police typically refer to a heroin works kit in her car that contains the supplies needed to inject the drugs such as needles and a tourniquet.  While she has plead guilty to the drunk driving charges, her drug charges are still outstanding and she is presumed innocent unless and until she pleads guilty or is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a judge or jury as that is the standard of proof required in a criminal case.

In civil drunk driving cases, there is a lower standard of proof known as “preponderance of the evidence.”

The Dangers of Drunk Driving in Boston

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has conducted research for the past several decades including wet labs where they get subjects to drink measured quantities of alcohol and see how they are affected including the ability to drive a motor vehicle.  The following are some of the results from these studies of how alcohol affects drivers at various blood alcohol concentrations (BACs):

  • BAC of .02 – Subjects will have some loss of judgement, be relaxed, slightly warmer body temperature, and an altered mood.  They will have a decline in visual ability, and a lesser ability to perform two tasks at the same time.  This is essential because driving is a divided attention task that requires drivers to perform multiple tasks at the same time.
  • BAC of .05 – Subjects will have exaggerated behavior, some loss of small muscle control such as focusing their eyes, an impaired sense of judgement, lowered inhibitions, coordination problems, an even lesser ability to track objects, and a slower response to emergencies that tend to come up during driving.
  • BAC of 08 – this is the legal limit and subjects will have poor muscle coordination, speech troubles, trouble detecting danger, slowed thinking, short-term memory loss, problems processing  information, and perception difficulties.

When we are dealing with a BAC that is three times the legal limit, a person will  have difficultly breathing, slowed central nervous system function, and death is a possibility.  When the number goes even higher, death is likely.  What is truly amazing is not that people get to this point, where they cannot walk or even breathe, but they sometimes manage to get behind the wheel of a car and end up in a serious or even fatal Boston car accident.

Proving Negligence in a Civil Drunk Driving Accident Case in Boston

In the civil context a drunk driving case that results in a car accidnet is typically filed under a theory of negligence. This means that it must be established that the defendant owed a duty of due to care towards plaintiff, that defendant breached that duty of due care, and the breach actually and proximately caused damages to plaintiff. The duty of due care is presumed by law when anyone chooses to drive a car in the Commonwealth. This is true whether the defendant had a driver’s license issued by this state or any other state.

The breach can found as a matter of law if the driver is proven to have driven under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. When someone drives a car at well beyond the legal limit, this should not be hard to establish.  These cases are often treated as clear liability cases by the defendant’s insurance company. While they will not fight liability, they will fight causation and the amount of damages so you want to make sure you speak with an experienced Boston car accident lawyer who has handled cases involving alleged drunk drivers.

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:

Woman at center of State Police scandal pleads guilty to drunken driving charge, November 17, 2017, By Travis Andersen, Boston Globe

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Former NFL Quarterback Vince Young Given Probation for Drunk Driving, Feb. 7, 2017, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog