Per Se Intoxication and Drunk Driving Car Accidents

In the U.S., the legal limit for a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 grams of ethanol per hundred milliliters of blood.  Ethanol is the chemical name for the type of alcohol that is found in alcoholic beverages.  There are other kinds of alcohol, such as isopropanol that is used for medical applications, but that can be very harmful if ingested.  That being said, there have been many cases over the years where people drank medical alcohol or even ate hand sanitizer and then drove drunk.

drunk drivingThe reason there is a national legal limit, even though that would normally be reserved to the states to decide, is because, through the efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Congress passed a national drinking age law and tied it to highway funding.  If the states do not comply, that would mean they do not get millions of dollars in federal highway money, so they are not likely to go against the federal limit.
However, this does not mean that a state cannot lower their legal limit – it just means they can’t set a higher legal limit than the national standard of 0.08.  According to a recent news article from ABC 5 Boston, the state of Utah is lowering the state legal limit there to 0.05, which is about the amount one would be at after a single drink, in many cases.  For residents there, it means that if they blow into a breath test or give a blood sample with a level above 0.05, the would be per se intoxicated if they are behind the wheel of a car.  This means that they can be arrested and convicted of drunk driving even if they do not exhibit any symptoms of intoxication, such as dangerous driving.

This is the lowest legal BAC limit in the nation, and in Massachusetts, the legal limit is still 0.08.  While this law primarily deals with a person being convicted of the crime of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OUI), as our Boston drunk driving accident lawyers can explain, it also comes into play in a civil case.  In other words, if a person is found guilty of drunk driving either by a judge or jury verdict or after pleading guilty, that person will have been adjudicated as having violated a traffic law.  In this case, it is a criminal traffic violation, but the law works the same.  This means that it will be very difficult for an insurance company to deny that their insured driver did not breach his or her duty of due care owed to the plaintiff following a serious or even fatal drunk driving car crash.

In the Commonwealth, there are four elements to the tort of negligence.  Negligence is the primary grounds for filing a civil car accident lawsuit.  The four elements are duty, breach, causation, and damages.  The duty is imposed by state law when any person drives in our state.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:
Lawmakers pass toughest DUI limit in United States, March 9, 2017, Associated Press, WCVB 5 Boston

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

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