All fifty states and Washington DC legally require drivers' blood alcohol content (BAC) to be 0.08% or less. Although drunk driving incidences have reportedly declined by half over the last thirty years, drunk driving remains a serious problem in Maryland and in the United States.
- Nearly one-third of all traffic related deaths in 2015 involved a drunk driver
- On average, eight hundred people are injured each day in drunk driving accidents
- Two-thirds of people are involved in a drunk driving collision at some point in their lives
- Young adults ages 26 to 29 have the highest rate of drunk driving of any age group
- Over half of convicted drunk drivers will continue to drive on their suspended licenses
In October of 2016, the Maryland General Assembly passed "Noah's Law," named after a Montgomery County police officer who was killed by a drunk driver during a traffic stop. With the passage of this legislation, which enforces stricter drunk driving penalties including the usage of an ignition interlock device, Maryland's drunk driving laws are among the toughest in the United States. Still, statistics show that Maryland's rates of injury and death from drunk driving incidences continues to hover around the national average:
- In 2013, there were 7,321 impaired driving crashes, in which 2,351 people were injured and 138 people were killed.
- In Maryland, nearly half of all impaired driving accidents occur in the Baltimore-Towson area, and one-third occur in the greater Washington area.
- 19% of teenage respondents to a 2015 statewide survey had ridden in a car with an impaired driver sometime in the last month and 10% had driven a vehicle themselves within two hours of consuming alcohol
Recovering from a car accident is even harder when you know the at-fault driver made the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking. Our law firm represents victims of serious motor vehicle accidents. Many of these claims involve victims who have been harmed or killed by intoxicated drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, call us at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.
Yes. There is insurance coverage in every drunk driving accident case that occurs in Maryland. If a drunk driver injured you or a loved one, you have a claim.
Sometimes. DWI/DUI accident cases are largely the same as other accident cases our lawyers handle throughout Maryland. But there are some differences that may impact how the case should be fought and what the value of the case might be.
The question of whether a drunk driving car crash case is different from other accident cases hinges on whether the drunk driver denies liability. If the driver claims that he or she was not at-fault for the accident, any evidence of the driver's intoxication should be admissible to prove fault in the crash.
However, if the defendant concedes liability for the accident, your lawyer cannot provide evidence to the jury that they were drunk. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the defendant was on the job or in a work vehicle their intoxication can be used as evidence in a negligent entrustment claim.
Ultimately, our lawyers believe there are cases when getting into a car with a drunk driver constitutes contributory negligence. But there are also many instances when insurance companies claim that a passenger knew things that they could not have possibly known. We have had success in fighting this defense in jury trials.
Our lawyers have handled claims in which the drunk driver's insurance company argued that the passenger should never have gotten in the car with the drunk driver. But how obvious was it that the driver was drunk? Did the passenger have the opportunity to see how much alcohol or drugs the driver had taken? The strength of this argument depends on how much the passenger knew before they got into the vehicle.
No. A guilty plea or verdict alone does not constitute liability in a civil case in most states.
If you have a test that shows a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above, you are presumed to be under the influence of alcohol according to §11-174.1 of the Maryland Transportation Article. Lawyers seek the expert counsel of toxicologists in these cases. Toxicologists study the effect of drugs, chemicals, and other substances on living organisms.
It is useful to have a toxicologist to explain what BAC means and the impact it would have on the driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle in the context of a particular accident. This is because the plaintiff has to explicitly make a causal connection between the intoxicated state and the driver’s behavior.
- Wilbur v. Suter, 126 Md. App. 518, 730 A. 2d 693 (1999) The Baltimore City trial court excluded evidence contained in a report from the fire department that the plaintiff drank several beers before the fire that was the subject of the case. Maryland's intermediate appellate court affirmed this decision and explained that “in order for evidence of intoxication to be admissible is for the proponent of the evidence to demonstrate some causal connection between the allegedly intoxicated state of the person in question and his or her conduct or behavior."
- Mitchell v. Montgomery County, 88 Md. App. 542, 596 A.2d 93 (1991). In this case, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals recognized the issue of whether intoxication led to a negligent act or omission.
- Quinn Freight Lines, Inc. v. Woods, 13 Md. App. 346, 352, 283 A.2d 624 (1971). The court ruled that mere evidence of intoxication is, in itself, sufficient to show negligence.
The language that lawyers use against drunk drivers is also important. They can reinforce the fact that alcohol caused the accident by continually emphasizing that the driver’s BAC was above the legal limit and that they chose to drive anyway.
- What is the value of my car accident case?
- What is contributory negligence?
- Statute of limitations for personal injury cases
Our lawyers handle serious car accident cases. We have recovered millions for our clients over the years and can help you and your family get peace of mind during this trying time. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, call us at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.