30 Nov

Drunk driving

Drunk driving by age: According to data from NHTSA, in 2013 the percentage of drivers in fatal crashes who were alcohol impaired was highest for 21 to 24 year old drivers, at 33 percent, followed by 25 to 34 year old drivers, at 29 percent, and 35 to 44 year old drivers, at 24 percent. The percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes was 20 percent for 45 to 54 year olds, 17 percent of 16 to 20 year olds, 14 percent for 55 to 64 year olds, 8 percent for 65 to 74 year olds and 5 percent for drivers over the age of 74.

Drunk driving by vehicle type: NHTSA data for 2013 show that 27 percent of motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes were alcohol impaired, compared with 23 percent of passenger car drivers and 21 percent of light truck drivers. Only 2 percent of large-truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2013 were alcohol impaired.

Social host liability: The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in February 2012 that social hosts could be held liable for off-premise injury to people caused by the drunk driving of a guest only if the host served alcohol or made it available. People who host “bring your own” parties are free from liability, even if the guest is underage. The court rejected an attempt by the parents of an injured 16-year-old to sue a party’s 18-year old host. The younger person suffered injuries in a crash in a car driven by someone who brought his own alcohol to the party. At issue was the fact that the driver, not the party host, supplied the liquor. Although the lawsuit contended that the host should be found negligent for allowing the driver to drink at her home, the court said that earlier rulings showed that hosts can’t be responsible for their guests’ drinking if they don’t control the supply of alcohol. Massachusetts law and court cases have held social hosts liable if they supply alcohol.

Also in February 2012 the New Mexico Supreme Court said that circumstantial evidence of a driver’s intoxication was sufficient to support a jury finding that the driver was intoxicated, overruling a decision in a 2004 case. Evidence presented in the earlier trial showed that a driver who struck and killed a motorcyclist had a 0.09 percent blood alcohol content five hours after the crash. The owners of the gas station where the driver worked and consumed a number of beers bought at the gas station pleaded ignorance of the driver’s condition. The court ruled that the blood test results were enough to prove that the driver was intoxicated.