December is a month of festivities for most people, chock full of holiday and end-of-year parties. And because many of these celebrations involve alcohol, it makes sense that it’s also National Drunk & Drugged Driving Prevention Month. In fact, the holiday season (between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day) is one of the deadliest and most dangerous times on U.S. roadways due to an increase in drunk or drugged driving.
MA drunk or drugged driving laws
In Massachusetts, a driver is legally considered operating under the influence (OUI) of alcohol if their blood alcohol level is 0.08% (0.02% if they are under 21). However, while marijuana is now legal in our state, driving under its influence at any level of impairment is illegal.
Alcohol-related impairment is determined with a breathalyzer or a blood test. Refusal to take a test is illegal, so drivers who refuse face instant penalties, in addition to any future judgments, such as jail time, fines and license suspension.
Determining marijuana impairment is more difficult as there is no test to measure the level of impairment. Officers can base their assessment on numerous factors, including what they witnessed before pulling the vehicle over; the driver’s speech, balance, coordination and reflexes during a field sobriety test; and visual evidence or the smell of marijuana.
If you’re the victim in an OUI
If you are injured in an accident because someone else was driving under the influence, get an attorney experienced in personal injury law. Your case does not hinge on proving the driver was drunk or drugged, only that they were negligent. For example, if you were struck when a driver ran a red light, the reason why they ran the light is not the issue.
As with other personal injury cases, you may be eligible for compensation for medical bills, lost work, pain and suffering and other quality of life issues. Punitive damages may be available if a loved one was killed in an accident. In these cases of wrongful death, the circumstances, such as intoxication, may play a larger role in a settlement, as it may be considered a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others.
An experienced personal injury attorney can review your case and work with you to get the compensation you deserve, whether that’s a settlement from the driver’s insurance company or through a lawsuit. Statutes of limitations apply, however, so if you’re the victim, contact us without delay.