When we think of drunk driving, we typically think of someone driving a car, motorcycle or truck. In reality, a person can be charged with drunk driving for operating any type of wheeled vehicle with the exception of a wheelchair, as this would be discriminatory against those who cannot walk. It is not uncommon for people to get arrested for operating under the influence on a bicycle or even a pedicab as we have seen in the past.
There is good reason the law makes it a crime to operate any motor vehicle or non-motorized vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs. This is because even on a bicycle, an intoxicated person can seriously hurt other people, especially if she is riding in traffic and causes a major accident.
However, from time to time, even experienced drunk driving accident lawyers hear about cases out of the ordinary. According to a recent news article from the Washington Post, a man was recently arrested at a high school hockey game in Fargo, North Dakota for allegedly driving a Zamboni while under the influence. For those of you who do not follow the Bruins or otherwise watch hockey, a Zamboni is a large ice-resurfacing machine driven on the ice to get it in a better condition for skating.
Police say a spectator called them to a high school girls’ hockey game when he notice the Zamboni driver appeared to be driving erratically. When the police saw defendant weaving across the ice, they intervened and eventually placed him under arrest. The game continued on rough ice that was not resurfaced, according to witnesses. They rink operators wanted to call another Zamboni driver, but coaches of both teams did not want to delay the game any more than it had been already due to defendant’s arrest. Rink operators also said this was first time in their over 20 year history a Zamboni driver was arrested for drunk driving, and they would take steps to ensure this didn’t happen in the future.
While there are obviously some elements of this story readers might consider humorous, having an allegedly drunk person driving an approximately 12,000 pound vehicle on ice with children around could have lead to serious personal injury. This is why police and rink operators are taking the matter very seriously.
While this situation didn’t cause an accident, it does bring up an interesting question. If someone’s employee causes an accident, is the company responsible for any damage caused? This is an important question because a drunk driving accident can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, and it is likely that an employee working for an hourly wage doesn’t have insurance or assets necessary to fully compensate the victim.
The law in Massachusetts allows a person to sue at-fault driver’s employer if certain conditions are met. It must be established the accident was conducted in furtherance of employer’s business. This is known as the respondeat superior doctrine. Basically, if an employee is doing an activity designed to benefit his or her employer and causes an accident, the employer may be liable (financially) for employee’s negligent conduct. This means victim can attempt to collect from the employer, who likely has significantly more assets and insurance coverage than employee.
If you or a loved one was involved in a drunk driving accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries:
Preparing Responsible Servers for the Upcoming Holiday Season, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, November 17, 2013