Use and abuse of powerfully addictive drugs like heroin and synthetic opioids like Oxycontin have thrown the country into crisis on many fronts.  Massachusetts has been plagued for years with heroin addiction and now also finds itself dealing with the synthetic opioid epidemic.  One of the ways it has manifested is in a growing number of drugged driving cases in Boston. These can result in serious and fatal car accidents.

Although drugged and drunk driving cases are similar, there are some big differences. Specifically, the ways in which evidence is gathered and impairment proven.

Boston drunk drivingProving alcohol impairment is fairly straightforward, as it moves quickly through the system and presence of the toxin in the blood at certain levels is a clear giveaway of intoxication. Plus, many law enforcement officers readily know the signs and symptoms of alcohol use. Conversely, it may require additional proof to determine if someone is on drugs as opposed to having some type of medical issue.  It can also be complicated if one has a valid prescription, though no prescription excuses one for driving while impaired. These difficulties in identifying drug impairment are at the heart of why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) created a course and certification for Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) who may be needed to testify in both criminal and civil trials. Continue reading

Driving drunk is never a good idea.  It is negligent conduct that puts many lives at risk including the drunk driver, passengers in his or her vehicle, pedestrians, bicyclists, and occupants in other vehicles.  According to the law as we can see in Chapter 231 of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L), this involves failing to act as a reasonable and prudent driver in such a way that will avoid a preventable car accident.  Negligence in Boston drunk driving accidents can also be proved by showing the defendant violated a traffic or criminal statute enacted to prevent the type of conduct which caused the accident.

Boston Drunk Driving AccidentsIn the case of an accident caused by a drunk driver, this conduct is obviously against the law as the Operating Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor or Drugs (OUI) statute can be found in M.G.L. Chapter 90, Section 24. However, beyond the law itself, driving drunk is negligent behavior because it involves making bad choices from the moment a defendant chooses to get behind the wheel while intoxicated and then throughout the intoxicated ride and this can lead to a serious or even fatal Boston drunk driving accident. Continue reading

Drunk Drivers Do Not Always Have Liability Insurance

It is the law in most states that in order to drive, you must have a valid driver’s license and the vehicle in which you are operating must have a valid liability insurance policy. This means if you are in an accident and it is determined that the accident is your fault, your insurance company will likely have to pay damages – specifically those stemming from the personal injury suffered by the victims of that crash.  While it is true that Massachusetts is a no-fault state, there are ways to step outside this system, and these cases can end with settlements or verdicts compelling the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company to pay. These regulations are explained by the Division of Insurance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

dui car crash accident lawyer Those cases that do not settle will likely go to trial so that a jury can hear the evidence and render a verdict following trial with respect to whether defendant is liable. If the defendant is determined to be liable for causing the car accident, there will be an award of damages to be paid by the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. Continue reading

It is fairy easy to assign fault when an intoxicated person gets behind the wheel and causes a serious or even fatal Boston drunk driving accident. However, there is the more complex issue of whether a bar or social host that served the alcohol was also responsible for the injuries caused by the drunk driver.  In Boston, a legal claim against a social host or a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol is called a dram shop lawsuit.

Boston Drunk Driving AccidentsThe term dram shop comes from the old British term for what is roughly equivalent to a shot of alcohol.  In the old days, factory workers were often given a “dram break” so they could go drink a dram of gin or whiskey supplied by the company as a perk to workers. Continue reading

A recent law to stop repeat drunk driving has been struck down in Oklahoma as it was declared unconstitutional by the state supreme court.  Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD) have been working for decades to curb drink driving.  They are working to raise money to fund anti-drunk driving campaigns, host educational programs such as the court-mandated victim impact panel (VIP), and to pay for efforts to lobby public officials to enact real change at the state and federal policy level.

Boston drunk driving lawyerIf you have ever watched a drunk driving public service announcement, listened to one in the car when driving on the radio, or seen a highway billboard, you may have noticed a common trend. They all seem to play on the fear impaired drivers have of being arrested.  This is somewhat of a sad commentary, considering the real concern should be that drunk driving can and often does cause serious personal injury or even death. However, drunk driver focus groups over the years have shown the primary concern these individuals have is to their own freedom and well-being, not the hypothetical losses of someone they don’t know.  Continue reading

Drunk driving accidents are different than typical personal injury lawsuits in Boston because the police and prosecutors will be working separately to gather evidence and prove intoxication on behalf of the at-fault driver.  In a typical car accident case, where the driver is not suspected of impairment, police may respond to the scene and conduct a cursory evaluation. They will typically write up a brief vehicle crash report and get the parties to exchange contact information and insurance cards, but there will not likely be any follow up investigation, unless there are serious injuries or death.

Drunk driving accident cases more often result in serious injuries and fatalities, and furthermore, driving drunk is a crime. That means police and prosecutors will be more heavily involved, though this won’t have a direct bearing on the civil case.

This additional work done by the police is for the purpose of convicting the defendant in an OUI trial, but it can also be of great help in obtaining a full and appropriate financial settlement from defendant’s insurance company.  In some cases, the insurance company will realize there is no point in denying liability.  When a defendant is arrested with probable cause for suspicion of drunk driving, insurers are often much quicker to settle.  They will offer to pay to fix plaintiff’s vehicle and will make a settlement offer. This does not however, mean that it will be a good settlement offer as the insurance company may still be willing to fight the case on damages. When this happens, the jury is told that defendant was driving drunk and caused the accident, but it is up to them to decide how much money, if any, the defendant should be required to pay the plaintiff.  This is known as a fight on damages only civil case and they are quite common in drunk driving injury cases.

Boston Drunk Driving Accidents
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The winter holiday season is a time of year when many people are out on the roads after drinking alcohol, due to the all holiday parties and family festivities. This is one reason Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), uses this time to push the legislature into crafting stricter laws related to drunk driving and drunk driving offenders.  According to a recent news article from CBS Local Boston, that is exactly what MADD is doing this year.

Boston drunk driving lawyerMADD is lobbying local lawmakers to require alcohol ignition interlock devices for first-time operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OUI) offenders.  Pursuant to the current law, these alcohol ignition interlock devices are only mandated for those who have been convicted two or more times for OUI.  This current ignition interlock law can be found in the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) Chapter 90, Section 241/2.

Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices

Drunk driving may be considered a misdemeanor for a first offense, but it is a misdemeanor that can result in serious personal injury as well as significant property damage.  There are some cases in which a defendant will crash into a building such as a home or place of business, and that can result in more people being seriously injured or even killed.

car crash Boston According to a recent news article from CBS Boston, a man has just been arrested in Dracut, Massachusetts for a drunk driving crash in which he allegedly slammed his car into the Dracut Department of Public Works (DPW) building.  Authorities have said the 50-year-old defendant, who is from Dracut, was driving his vehicle at around 4 p.m. when the crash occurred. Continue reading

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.  Continue reading

Boston drunk driving car accidents sometimes involve a driver who attempts to flee the scene following the accident.  In some cases, the at-fault driver’s car is still running and able to move and they will try to get away in the vehicle.  In other cases, the defendant’s car will be totaled from the Boston drunk driving car crash and he or she will try to flee the scene on foot.  Even if they are eventually caught, the thinking process appears to be that they will no longer be intoxicated so it will be harder to prove a drunk driving criminal case.  When a driver leaves on foot, it is not too difficult for the police to catch them if the car is registered in their name.

drunk driving accidentIn some Boston drunk driving crashes where the driver flees the scene, he or she will never be caught.  When this occurs, car accident victims may have to find other sources of recovery than the at-fault driver’s car insurance company.  When the diver flees the scene and is not found, we typically call this a John Doe driver case. Continue reading