Articles Posted in Drug or Alcohol Related Accidents

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) is even more dangerous when the driver is operating a large truck. Due to the size of a commercial truck, DUI accidents can lead to severe, multi-vehicle injuries on a busy road. When truck drivers cause a DUI accident, they may face both criminal and civil liability for their actions.

According to a recent news article, an intoxicated semi-truck driver killed one person in tragic DUI accident. The accident occurred at a busy intersection when the driver, who was also speeding, crashed into three cars stopped at a red light. The impact of the crash sent two of the vehicles flying into a nearby parking lot. The truck and one of the vehicles then caught on fire. Another vehicle crashed into a boulder. Sadly, one person died at the scene. Several others suffered serious injuries. Police believe the semi-truck driver was driving under the influence during the crash.

What Are the Differences Between Civil and Criminal DUI Cases?

Truck drivers who operate their vehicle under the influence may face criminal and civil cases against them. If they are convicted in a criminal case, they may serve time in prison or pay a fine. They may also be liable for damages in a civil negligence lawsuit. Victims of a DUI truck accident should know that a criminal case against the driver does not bar them from pursuing monetary damages. Criminal and civil cases are separate proceedings, and the outcome of one case does not bear on the other.

Sharing the road with big trucks requires all drivers to take caution, and requires that drivers pay close attention to the road and their surroundings to keep everyone safe. Tractor-trailer drivers are required to have a special license and typically spend many hours on the road. To the surprise of many, while operating heavy vehicles, there have been numerous occasions where truck drivers are cited for driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. According to the National Drunk Driving statistics shared by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, in 2019, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities made up 32.1 percent of total fatalities in the state of Maryland.

A commercial motor vehicle means a motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used to transport passengers or cargo and includes any combination vehicles with a gross combination weight of 26,001 or more pounds, as well as any vehicle which is designed to transport 15 or more passengers, including the driver. A commercial motor vehicle can also include a vehicle of any size that transports hazardous materials, which require placarding.

In a recent news article, a driver of a tractor-trailer was criminally charged ten days after a deadly crash that resulted in the death of four individuals in Georgia. A tractor-trailer struck another vehicle in a southbound lane, and then struck a second vehicle. Then the tractor-trailer traveled through the center median into the northbound lane. The tractor-trailer was struck by a Nissan, Honda, and another tractor-trailer before coming to a final stop. Two individuals were found dead at the scene, and these two individuals were passengers in the trailer-tractor of the now-criminally charged driver. The accident caused a total of 12 people to be taken to a hospital for treatment. Two additional individuals later died from their injuries as a result of the accident. The driver of the tractor-trailer was also taken to the hospital, and later arrested and charged with misdemeanors. His charges include an open container violation, following too closely, improper lane change, DUI, and four counts of homicide by vehicle.

Chain reaction accidents refer to a series of consecutive crashes, beginning with a primary crash followed by secondary crashes occurring immediately within a certain distance. Maryland chain reaction accidents, especially those involving a drunk driver, can result in serious and potentially deadly consequences. Chain reaction accidents commonly affect large areas of road space and often cause traffic jams and delays in evacuations. With the growing number of motor vehicle accidents, it is vital for road users to understand the behaviors that increase the likelihood of a serious crash.

Studies identifying the contributing factors determining the severity of consecutive crashes found many geographic, environmental, and behavioral elements that impact these accidents. However, like many other crashes, human error, such as impaired driving, is a crash indicator. For example, a news outlet reported on a semi-truck driver that caused a fatal accident, shutting down a major interstate. According to the report, the semi-truck driver failed to slow down and crashed into a vehicle, causing a series of consecutive accidents. One of the drivers in the accident died, and two others were in critical condition. State patrol stated that the semi-truck driver denied impairment; however, he could not complete the sobriety tests effectively.

Washington D.C.’s drunk driving accidents kill many people every year, causing significant public health concerns for all road users. Securing compensation after a drunk driving accident requires the claimant to establish fault. Liability or fault may extend beyond just the drunk or impaired driver. For instance, in some cases, the employer of a drunk truck driver may be liable for the accident.

Although DUI crash statistics often focus on the use of alcohol, Maryland DUI crashes can also be caused by the use of drugs. A DUI offense in Maryland includes driving while impaired by a drug, combination of drugs, a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol, or while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance. This includes prescription drugs or controlled substances taken for medicinal use. Drivers who operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs may be liable for any resulting injuries or damages. And while traffic decreased due to the pandemic, crashes involving alcohol and drugs increased. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in a study of five hospitals between March 2020 and July 2020, almost two-thirds of seriously or fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one drug.

Does a Drunk Driver Need to Be Convicted of a Crime for Victims to Pursue a Personal Injury Case?

No, victims in a Maryland DUI truck accident may be able to recover financial compensation through a personal injury claim, even in a case where the truck driver was not convicted of a crime for driving while under the influence. The standard for proving a civil case is not as high as in a criminal case and only requires that a plaintiff proves the case by a preponderance of the evidence. Still, evidence of a driver’s conviction in criminal court may be useful evidence in a civil case against the driver.

When a loved one is injured a Maryland truck accident, the challenges can be overwhelming. The financial, physical, and emotional burden can be enormous, both for victims and their families. Financial compensation from a personal injury lawsuit can help alleviate some of these burdens.

In Maryland personal injury cases, different damages may be available to victims and their families depending on the specifics of the case. Plaintiffs in Maryland accident claims may able to recover compensation for medical expenses, mental suffering, wage losses, and other damages. The plaintiff has the burden to prove damages in the case. Generally, damages can be divided into two types: special and general damages.

Special damages normally include economic damages, such as past and future medical bills, loss of wages, diminished earning capacity, and others. General damages normally refer to non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Apart from special and general damages, punitive, or exemplary, damages are available in some cases. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for his or her conduct and also to act as a deterrent to others. To be awarded punitive damages, a plaintiff has to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the defendant had actual knowledge of the wrongful act at issue.

Despite strict DUI laws, Maryland drunk driving crashes and fatalities continue to occur at a startling rate. Maryland’s Drunk Driving Reduction Act went into effect in 2016. Under the Act, anyone convicted of driving under the influence must have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. The device prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has a certain level of alcohol, based on a breath test. However, despite this, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation, in 2018 there still were about 7,000 crashes involving the driver’s use of alcohol or drugs in the state.

New information was uncovered in a recent DUI crash involving a 23-year-old commercial truck driver who killed seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire. According to a news report, the driver, who crossed a double-yellow line on a highway, was high on drugs and reportedly was reaching for a drink just before the crash took place. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a report that was obtained by the media. He had previously been arrested for drug-related and driving offenses in five other states. His license commercial license should have been suspended the month prior due to another drunk driving charge, according to the state motor vehicle department.

The report showed that the driver tested positive for a narcotic or amphetamine, which rendered him incapable of safely operating the truck. The report also indicates that the driver admitted to investigators to reaching for a drink before the crash. The crash revealed that the driver was first charged with drunk driving in 2013 in Massachusetts, and his license was suspended, but he was still able to obtain a commercial license. An investigation into the crash showed that in addition to the driver, over 1,600 Massachusetts drivers should have had their licenses revoked due to out-of-state infractions, but were not processed.

Last month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion in a truck accident case that is of interest to Maryland truck accident victims because it deals with how courts should handle evidence of a plaintiff’s marijuana use at a personal injury trial. Ultimately, the court determined that admitting the fact that the plaintiff had previously used marijuana, but not within the 36 hours leading up to the accident, would not be proper. Thus, the court prevented the defendant’s expert witness from testifying to that effect.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving southbound on the highway in the evening hours. The defendant was a truck driver who was also traveling on the highway, although in the opposite direction. The defendant had previously pulled off the highway to take a nap and was pulling back onto the highway when he struck the plaintiff’s vehicle.

The plaintiff has no recollection of the accident, although his passenger testified that the truck suddenly appeared in their lane, and, despite the plaintiff’s attempts to avoid the truck, he was unable to do so. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized as a result. During his hospitalization, he was asked if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He responded that he occasionally smokes marijuana but had not within the past 36 hours.

Continue reading ›

While there are many causes of Maryland truck accidents, most truck accidents are caused by intoxicated, distracted, or sleepy drivers. Intoxication is such a problem among truck drivers that many states have implemented stricter blood-alcohol content allowances for all commercial drivers. For example, commercial drivers are not permitted to have a blood-alcohol content of .04 or greater, while other motorists are limited at a .08 blood-alcohol content.

Alcohol intoxication is certainly responsible for a large share of the total number of truck accidents involving intoxication. However, the use of illegal drugs seems to be increasing among truck drivers over the past few years. In part, this is due to the pressures inherent in the long-haul trucking profession, which places an emphasis on getting cargo to the final destination as quickly as possible. This pressure leads some drivers to take illegal drugs in an effort to stay awake longer and travel more miles per day. Of course, illegal drugs are not without their side effects. Too often, drivers who take stimulants to stay awake find themselves drifting off as the drugs wear off.

Truck Driver Faces Felony Charges for Intoxicated Driving

Earlier this month, two people were seriously injured when the vehicle in which they were traveling was struck by a truck driver who had drifted out of his lane and into oncoming traffic. According to a local news source covering the accident, it was around 4 p.m. as the truck driver was en route to his final destination when he inexplicably crossed over the center line and into oncoming traffic.

Continue reading ›

Earlier this year in March, an accident involving a school bus, a passenger car, and a semi-truck claimed the lives of two men and injured several of the students on board the bus. The accident occurred when the semi-truck inexplicably veered out of its lane, across the center median, and into the path of the school bus. The driver of the school bus was able to swerve to avoid a collision; however, the high-school track coach driving in a vehicle behind the bus was struck head-on by the semi-truck.

After evading the oncoming semi-truck, the school-bus driver lost control of the vehicle as it ran off the side of the road. The track coach and the semi-truck driver both died in the collision. In all, 18 students were hospitalized, most with non-life threatening injuries.

According to a recent news report, the police conducted toxicology tests on the semi-truck driver after the collision. The results came back showing that he had methamphetamine in his system at the time of the collision.

Continue reading ›

Drunk driving has long been a concern among lawmakers and motorists when it comes to those who operate large trucks for a living. While the majority of truck drivers obey the laws requiring they remain free from the effects of drugs or alcohol while behind the wheel, the reality is that too many truck drivers break the rules when it is convenient for them do so.

For example, some truck drivers use illegal stimulant drugs so that they can remain alert and travel longer distances per day. This is important for many truck drivers, who are compensated on a per-mile basis. However, while stimulant use may temporarily increase a driver’s alertness, it can also have unanticipated consequences, including difficulties maintaining concentration, sudden fatigue, and an altered sense of which risks are acceptable to take while behind the wheel.

Maryland lawmakers understand the dangers drunk truck drivers pose and have enacted strict penalties for any truck driver found to be operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Rather than the .08 blood-alcohol limit applicable to most motorists, commercial truck drivers are subject to the lower limit of .04 blood-alcohol content. This can be as little as one or two drinks in a period of two hours.

Continue reading ›

Contact Information