Articles Posted in Drunk Driving Victims

At a conference in Waltham this week U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a multiple-agency partnership that aims to develop technology that will prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. The technology could someday reduce or eliminate the risk of Boston car accidents caused by drunk drivers.

The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) – a five-year $10 million initiative – will explore both touch-base and breath-based blood-alcohol analysis applications capable of evaluating impairment and preventing intoxicated motorists from driving. It is anticipated that integrating such technology as a standard or optional accessory in vehicle manufacturing will be available within the next decade.
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“What we’re doing is developing technology that won’t interfere with sober drivers, will require virtually no maintenance or upkeep and have such precision that it only stops a driver when their blood alcohol content is .08 BAC or higher, which is the illegal limit for drunk driving in every state,” said Shane Karr, V.P. for Federal Government Affairs at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Our Boston personal injury lawyers frequently report on the risks of drunk driving — nationwide one-third of all fatal accidents involve alcohol. Somewhere in America someone dies from a drunk driving accidents every 45 minutes.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher the time of a fatal car accident are eight times more likely to have been previously arrested for driving while intoxicated than sober drivers linked to fatal wrecks. “Drunk driving continues to be a national tragedy that needlessly claims the lives of thousands of people on our highways each year,” said Secretary LaHood. “We need to put an end to it.”

Our Boston car accident attorneys know this is a topic of special interest for Massachusetts drivers familiar with “Melanie’s Law” – enacted in 2006. Thirteen-year-old Melanie Powell, for whom the law is named, was killed in 2003 by a second-conviction drunken driver, the Patriot Ledger reports. It is her namesake law that imposes stricter penalties and restrictions and heavier fines for those convicted of drunk driving. It also permits state officials to have access to a driver’s entire driving record.

Among other things, Melanie’s Law requires habitual drunk driving offenders to install an ignition interlock device, a template technology similar to what DADSS is developing. Ignition interlock devices operate essentially like a breathalyzer. Before a car with an IID can be started, the driver must exhale into the device. If a breath-analysis indicates a BAC of .02 or higher, the IID prevents the car from being started.

Upon installation of a IID, a multiple-offender driver may get their license reinstated with a “Z” restriction. The “Z” designation indicates to law enforcement that the license-holder is a multiple OUI offender and may only drive a vehicle with an installed, functioning, IID. According to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, more than 4,000 ignition interlock devices have been installed since the program went into effect on Jan. 1, 2006.
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A new report published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that about 1 in 10 teenagers admitted to drinking and driving within the past year.

It is the latest study to highlight the many risk factors associated with teen driving. Our Boston car accident attorneys are well aware that teenagers are at high risk for every conceivable poor driving habit, including drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving, not wearing their seat belt and riding with too many passengers in the vehicle. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to report that car accidents are the leading cause of death for all teens, including those ages 15 to 20 and those not yet old enough to drive.
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While ten percent of teens admit to drinking and driving within the last 12 months, more alarming still is the fact that half of those admit to having done it more than once in the last year. When you factor in the fact that teenagers often ride with friends, it becomes highly probable that your teenagers — yes YOUR teenager — is going to be faced with the decision of whether or not to ride in a vehicle with someone who has been drinking.

Massachusetts drunk driving accidents are a leading cause of fatal Boston car accidents. The NHTSA reports that alcohol was involved in 177 of the 417 fatal accident reported in Massachusetts in 2008 — accounting for a staggering 42 percent of all fatalities.

While great strides have been made in combating drunk driver over the past several decades — 87 percent of those polled said there is almost universal disapproval — much work remains to be done. Safety advocates continue to push for ignition interlock devices — which test a driver’s breath and prohibit a vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected. The AAA Foundation reports that there is nearly universal support for requiring the devices for repeat DUI offenders. About 69 percent of those polled favor the devices for all motorists convicted of DUI, including first-time offenders.

“Drunk drivers put everyone on the road in danger,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “Driving is both a privilege and a responsibility. Exploring new technologies, such as interlocking devices, are important to ensuring public safety in conjunction with personal responsibility and law enforcement.”
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The Boston Car Accident attorneys and staff at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman wish you a safe and enjoyable New Year. Please celebrate responsibly and don’t drink and drive.

News22 reports that Northampton police will be out in force, as police departments throughout the state join the Massachusetts State Police in cracking down on drunk drivers.
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“There’s a drunk driving ‘Over the Limit, Under Arrest’ campaign going on,” said Lt. John Healey. “This weekend, we’ll have 20 extra patrols out throughout the area, looking for drunk drivers.”

The Swampscott Reporter notes that 230 Massachusetts law enforcement agencies will be participating in the “Over the Limit. Under Arrest” campaign through the weekend.

Authorities point to the effort as aiding in the reduction of Massachusetts drunk driving accidents in recent years. In 2004, a total of 169 motorists were killed in drunk driving accidents in the state, compared to 124 in 2008.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports someone is killed in a drunk driving accident every 50 minutes.

Please be responsible this weekend. Designate a driver. Call a cab. Stay with a friend. Find a safe ride home. But don’t drink and drive.
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The Boston car accident lawyers and the staff at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman want to wish each of you a Merry Christmas and a safe and enjoyable new year. Please celebrate responsibly and don’t drink and drive.

The Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) organization works hard every day of the year but it is this time of year that they try a little harder to get their message out to the country. The holidays are a special time for families, unless they are mourning or remembering a loved one killed by a drunk driver.
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Penalties vary from state to state, but 5-15 years in prison for vehicular homicide is common. Recently updated in October 2010, MADD reported that Massachusetts drunk drivers if found negligent will be sentenced to no less than 2 ½ years or no more than $5000. If carelessness behavior is not found their sentence is no less than 30 days or more than $3000.

In 2009, MADD ranked Massachusetts at 31, meaning only 19 states are safer to be on the roadways when it comes to drunk driving. There were 108 fatalities in Massachusetts as a result of drunken driving crashes.

Unfortunately, MADD also reports that 4,840 people were 5 time DUI repeat offenders. Massachusetts is one of 48 states who enforce the ignition interlock device with a second offense. The device is an apparatus in which repeat offenders place in the ignition of their car and have to breathe into a tube before igniting the vehicle. MADD is currently working with the state of Massachusetts to enforce for first-time offenders.

MADD knows the holidays can be a difficult time for those who have lost a loved one to drunk driving so they offer the following helpful tips:

-In remembrance of your loved one you may want to donate gifts to a needy family or child’s organization. Sometimes doing a good deed is the best medicine to get you through the tough times.

-Instead of drowning in thoughts of sorrow, get your family members together and share fond memories and stories of your loved one in an effort to make it a happier occasion for everyone.

– Start a new tradition at the holidays doing something your loved one might have really enjoyed like taking a trip, or purchasing a favorite gift.

For more information on the current holiday campaigns: “Tree of Life Tribute Fund”, “Tie One on for MADD”, “Give the Gift of Designated Driver” visit MADDS website and find out how you can help today.
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Operating a vehicle while under the influence is a danger to other drivers and pedestrians not to mention against the law. Although under the influence is most commonly known for alcohol consumption, Boston automobile accident attorneys are finding that drug consumption is an increasing cause for fatal crashes in Massachusetts.

Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that drug use tested in fatal crash victims has been on the rise over the last 5 years. Though testing is sporadic at best, last year of the 63% of drivers that were tested, 3,952 came back positive for drug use which equates to 18% of fatalities in 2009. In 2005, only 56% of drivers were tested but 13% of the fatal drivers tested positive for drug use.
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The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) used by NHTSA to collect statistics broke the testing down to three variables: did the driver get tested, what kind of drug may have been used, and what was the outcome of the test.

Test results included illegal drug usage as well as doctor prescribed and over-the -counter drugs so it varied anywhere between narcotics to inhalers to Tylenol. More importantly, if a drug was found positive it didn’t necessarily mean the person had used in excess but rather it was found in their system. Unlike testing for alcohol levels, determining whether a driver was under the influence of drugs is more difficult because some drugs remain in the system for days or even weeks after being consumed.

State to state there are some inconsistencies in determining if drugs are present, mostly due to the fact that each state has their own individual laws and policies established. State authorities don’t all use the same test, test for the same drugs, or use the same absorption levels.

Massachusetts is a state that needs work on the measures for drug testing. In 2009, 212 driver fatalities were reported — in nearly half the cases it is unknown whether drug testing was conducted. This track record is poor in comparison to nationally, where 21,798 fatalities were reported and testing status was unknown in only 4% of the cases.

Drivers should be aware of the warning signs on drug labels. If you have taken prescribed or over-the-counter drugs make sure you read all the side effects listed before getting in a vehicle to drive. Side effects can lead to impaired driving and could cause a serious or even fatal accident on the roadways.
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A Wilbraham, Massachusetts drunk driving accident has claimed the life of a Portland woman, Mass Live reported.

As the holiday season enters full swing, our Boston accident attorneys urge you to celebrate responsibly and help reduce the risk of the devastating consequences that are too often associated with drinking and driving during the holiday season. Nationwide, about one-third of all fatal accidents involve alcohol, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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In 2008, a total of 11,773 people were killed in accidents caused by drunk drivers — or one every 45 minutes. Alcohol was involved in 42 percent of all Massachusetts car accidents, accounting for 151 of 363 traffic fatalities.

In this case, a 24-year-old Ware motorist is facing charges of motor vehicle homicide; operating under the influence of alcohol with serious bodily injury; and negligent operation, and a marked lanes violation, according to police.

The head-on collision occurred at Boston Road and Three Rivers Rod. Six people were transported to the hospital, including the 27-year-old victim. Police say the defendant was driving a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee eastbound on Boston road when he collided with a 2002 Nissan Altima with five occupants.
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Massachusetts State Police have announced DUI checkpoints in Essex County and Suffolk County as authorities work to reduce the risk of Massachusetts drunk driving accidents through the Thanksgiving Holiday.
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As our Boston car accident lawyers reported earlier this week, 354 fatal accidents were reported nationwide over the Thanksgiving holiday last year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that someone is killed in a drunk driving accident every 45 minutes.

About one-third of all fatal accidents involve a drunk driver. In 2008, a total of 11,773 motorists were killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes. Massachusetts drunk driving accident killed 141 motorists — or a staggering 42 percent of all traffic fatalities that year.

Mother’s Against Drunk Driving ranks the state 31st out of 50 states in the fight to combat drunk driving.

Statistics for 2009 include:

3-Time Offenders: 22,253
5-Time Offenders: 4,840
Fatalities: 108
Percentage of underage drinkers last 30 days: 33 percent
Underage binge drinkers last 30 days: 23 percent Continue reading

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements this week. The list will go to state governments, which are encouraged to use it in setting priorities. Our Boston injury lawyers note that many of the government’s priorities involve safety topics and risk factors we discuss here frequently.

“State governments are in a unique position to effect the most significant improvement in certain areas of transportation safety,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said. “Our Most Wanted List spotlights those states that have made noteworthy progress in better protecting the traveling public – and those that have not.”

Improve Motorcycle Safety

The number of fatal motorcycle accidents more than doubled from 1997 to 2008. Head injuries are the leading cause of death. The NTSB therefore recommends helmet laws. Currently 20 states require helmets for all riders. Twenty-seven states have partial helmet laws and three states — New Hampshire, Iowa and Illinois — have no helmet laws.

Massachusetts motorcycle accidents killed 41 riders in 2008.

Distracted Driving car accidents involving young drivers

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 20. Graduated Drivers License systems and more involvement from parents during the driver’s education process could help reduce the risks. Additionally, the government backs cell phone bans and text messaging bans for young drivers.

Better Child Occupant Protection
Nearly half of children ages 4 to 8 who are killed in car accidents are not properly restrained. The government recommends booster seats for children ages 4 to 8.

Primary Seat Belt Laws
More than half of the 23.000 occupants killed in car accidents last year were not wearing seat belts. Belts reduce the risk of serious or fatal injury by about half.

Eliminate Hardcore Drunk Driving Twenty-two years ago the nation’s deadliest drunk driving accident occurred when a driver slammed into a bus in Kentucky, killing 27 people. The driver had a history of drunk driving and a blood-alcohol level of .26. In the last decade, 81,000 have been killed by hard-core drunk drivers.
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A 19-year-old Sudbury teenager faces charges after serving a fellow teenager alcohol at a party thrown at his family’s Willis Road home. The 18-year-old guest later left the party and died in a one-vehicle Massachusetts car accident after the Mercedes-Benz SUV he was driving veered off the road and into the woods, the Boston Globe reports.

Depending on the state, Dram Shop and other laws permit a host of a private party or the owner of a bar or restaurant to be sued for negligence in over-serving liquor to a guest. Dram Shop is an old English term: Dram was a unit of measure used to serve liquor over the counter.
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Law enforcement officials believe that the young man was speeding and intoxicated. He was not wearing a seat-belt and may have been on his cell phone prior to the crash. Both men are 2009 graduates of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. If convicted under the social host law, the party host could be fined up to $2,000 and faces up to a year in jail.

The Center for Disease Control reports that every 45 minutes a person in the U.S. dies in an alcohol-related car accident and the cost drunk driving crashes exceeds $51 billion annually. In 2008, nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities – claiming 11,773 lives – were caused by alcohol-related car accidents. During the same time frame, more than 1.4 million drivers were charged with DUI, representing less than one percent of the 159 million incidents of self-reported alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.

Despite a downward trend from 2008-2009 in Massachusetts fatal car accidents; there were still 698 fatalities, of which 228 – one-third – involved alcohol, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports.
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While our Boston injury lawyers reported on the recent historic drop in traffic accidents last year, one-third of traffic fatalities nationwide remained the fault of drunk driving, according to new statistics just released from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Alcohol-related Massachusetts car accidents were responsible for 108 of 334 fatalities in 2009, compared to 120 of the 364 traffic fatalities in 2008. Nationwide, 10,839 motorists died in alcohol-related crashes last year, compared to 11,711 in 2008. While 33 states reported a decline, alcohol involvement in 1 in 3 fatal traffic deaths is still much too high.
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“We are still losing more than 30,000 lives a year on our highways, and about a third of these involve drunk driving,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “We will continue to work with our state partners to strictly enforce both seat belt use and anti-drunk driving laws across this nation, every day and every night.”

As we reported earlier this month on our Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, new data shows that eight percent of all motorists — or some 17 million drivers — have driven drunk in the last year, despite the fact that 80 percent say drunk driving is a major threat to the safety of their family.

Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving are vowing to redouble efforts to prevent the kind of senseless tragedy that results from drunk driving accidents in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

The states with the highest percentage of drunk driving accidents last year included Connecticut (44 percent), Hawaii (48 percent), Kansas (40 percent), Rhode Island (40 percent), South Carolina (42 percent), South Dakota (40 percent) and Washington (42 percent).
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