May 25, 2013

What Is Drunk Driving in Maryland? NTSB Wants to Lower Legal Limit to Reduce Alcohol Related Accidents and Deaths

All 50 states, including Maryland, define drunk driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 percent as a crime. Now the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants to lower that threshold to .05 BAC to further reduce the number of drunk driving accident injuries and deaths. Currently about 10,000 people in the U.S. are killed every year in alcohol related motor vehicle crashes. The NTSB feels those are 10,000 good reasons to re-examine the nation's legal definition of drunken driving.

In the early 1980s, public safety awareness groups brought more attention to the issue of drunk driving, with many states establishing a rate of .15 BAC to demonstrate intoxication. Over the next two decades, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) brought more attention to this deadly traffic safety problem, with all states adopting a .08 BAC by 2004.

According to CNN.com, "The number of alcohol-related highway fatalities…dropped from 20,000 in 1980 to 9,878 in 2011, the NTSB said."

At .08 BAC, a 180-pound man is likely to hit the legal limit if he consumes about four drinks in one hour. If the legal limit were lowered to .05 BAC, that same man could reach the threshold for being legally drunk after two to three drinks in the same time period.

Restaurant industry representatives object to the NTSB's recommendation, saying that many women, due to their size, would reach the legal limit after just one drink. The safety board counters that more than 100 countries on six continents have set BAC limits at 0.05 or lower. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a new chart showing that at a BAC of .05, drivers show "reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, (and) reduced response to emergency driving situations."

Also, other factors come into play in drunk driving accident cases, such as whether the driver was on medication at the time of the crash, as well as prior history of drunk driving arrests.

Maryland Drunken Driving Laws

Despite all states having the current .08 BAC legal limit on their books, traffic laws and penalties vary from state to state. Maryland's drunk driving laws are actually tougher than in some states. For example, drivers who are caught with a higher BAC (.15) may be subject to increased penalties and, if convicted, must use an ignition interlock device. Maryland also enforces a 45-day administrative suspension of driver's license for first offenders, with limited driving privileges during the suspension period. Of note: 154 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in Maryland in 2010 (Source: Maryland Traffic Safety Facts 2006 - 2010, NHTSA).

Related Baltimore Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Articles:

Maryland Bill Targets Drunk Drivers Who Transport Minors, Proposes Ignition Locks (Dec. 2012)

Maryland Car Accident Death Rates Down, But Many Traffic Safety Challenges Remain (Jan. 2012)

Sources:

Tougher drunk-driving threshold proposed to reduce traffic deaths
CNN.com May 15, 2013

Drunken-Driving Limit Should Be Lowered to .05, NTSB Says
Bloomberg News May 14, 2013

Related Web Resources:

Governors Highway Safety Association May 2013:

Drunk Driving Laws by State

Maryland Drunk Driving Laws


May 21, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Driving in Maryland : Stay Sober, Avoid Alcohol Related Motor Vehicle Accidents

Long holiday weekends statistically rack up more fatal drunk driving crashes than normal weekends. According to national traffic accident data, Memorial Day Weekend is the deadliest of all holiday weekends on U.S. roads and highways. Statistics showing holiday weekend traffic crash fatalities in order of most people killed are as follows:

Memorial Day: 473 killed (42% alcohol impaired driving)
New Year's Day: 468 killed (40% alcohol impaired driving)
Thanksgiving: 411 killed (34% alcohol impaired driving)
Fourth of July: 410 killed (40% alcohol impaired driving)
Labor Day: 360 killed (38% alcohol impaired driving)
Christmas: 262 killed (37% alcohol impaired driving)

(Source: U.S. Dept. of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, FARS/GES 2009 Data Summary)

Memorial Day, historically, has been a day to remember those who've given their lives in the Armed Services as well as other loved ones who have passed away. It also signals the beginning of summer, and many Maryland workers get that Monday off.

Baltimore County car accident injury lawyers like us know that a long holiday weekend filled with summer kickoff cookouts and other get-togethers -- and lots of beer, wine, and cocktails flowing -- can turn disastrous in a heartbeat. The increased traffic volume on Memorial Day weekend makes driving in Maryland that much more challenging.

AAA Mid-Atlantic told The Baltimore Sun that we may see a slight decrease in Memorial Day 2013 traffic in Maryland. This may be due to steep gas prices. Still, heavy traffic is expected. The Sun reports:

The Maryland Transportation Authority anticipates 1.8 million motorists will use the state's toll roads, bridges and tunnels between Friday and Monday. The Fort McHenry Tunnel, Interstate 95 north of Baltimore and the twin spans of the Bay Bridge will bear the brunt of the traffic.

So please, give yourself plenty of time to travel this weekend, and whatever you do: Drive sober. Drive defensively. Be on the lookout for other Maryland drivers who may be speeding, weaving, tailgating, driving intoxicated, texting or using cell phones while driving -- or all of the above.

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration reports that traffic accidents are the number-one killer of kids and young adults ages 4 to 34 in Md. -- more than homicides. A five-year average estimates 580 fatal crashes and more than 36,000 crashes with injuries on Maryland roadways every year. NHTSA reports that 162 people were killed in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents in Maryland in 2009. Memorial Day Weekend is statistically the riskiest holiday weekend to be on the road all year. Drive like your life -- and someone else's -- depends on it.

Related Baltimore Accident Injury Attorney Articles:

Maryland Bill Targets Drunk Drivers Who Transport Minors, Proposes Ignition Locks (Dec. 2012)

When Police Officers Deliver Tragic News : Someone Has Been Killed in a Maryland Drunk Driving Accident (Oct. 2011)

Sources:

State workers ready to untangle Memorial Day traffic snarls
The Baltimore Sun May 21, 2013

Maryland Crash Statistics
Maryland Dept. of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Administration

Fatality Analysis Reporting System : General Estimates System : 2009 DATA SUMMARY (PDF)
NHTSA.gov 2009

December 20, 2012

Maryland Bill Targets Drunk Drivers Who Transport Minors, Proposes Ignition Locks

What's worse than a drunk driver on Maryland roadways putting themselves and other motorists and pedestrians at risk? A drunk driver with kids in the car. Baltimore County drunk driving accident injury lawyers like us will tell you…motor vehicle crashes caused by alcohol-impaired drivers involving innocent children are some of the most heart-breaking cases we handle.

Maryland State Delegate Sam Arora (D – Montgomery County) would agree – and wants to prevent such reckless behavior from happening by adding teeth to Maryland DUI laws. Mr. Arora is sponsoring a new bill at the Maryland State House that would require drunk drivers caught transporting children while under the influence of alcohol to install an ignition lock device in their vehicles – and check their sobriety every time they attempt to drive.

Maryland House Bill 0032, "Drunk Driving - Transporting Minor - Ignition Interlock System Program," sponsored by Delegate Arora, was pre-filed in the House on Sept. 4, 2012 and is scheduled for First Reading by the Judiciary for Jan. 9, 2013.

Current Maryland drunken driving law does not require drunk drivers to install an ignition interlock device unless they are found to be nearly double over the legal blood alcohol concentration limit at .15 BAC. (The legal limit is .08 BAC.) Arora believes that drunk drivers found with children in the car are putting innocents at risk, and the laws to prevent them from harming children should be tougher.

Arora would like the Maryland drunk driving laws changed to require drunk drivers with a BAC of .08 or more and children in the vehicle to install the ignition interlock breathalyzer device. The device works much as the police dept. breathalyzer test: The suspected drunk driver breathes into the device and it records his or her blood alcohol concentration level. If the level is at or above the legal limit, the driver will not be able to engage the ignition of the vehicle.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) commended Mr. Aurora for introducing the Maryland bill, and agreed with him that Maryland needs tougher drunk driving laws to protect children. The MADD website states: "In 2011, Maryland mildly improved on their drunk driving law by requiring ignition interlocks for all repeat and first time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or greater. Maryland could see a significant decline in DUI related deaths, if these devices were required for all offenders."

Maryland is among several states with a DUI Child Endangerment statute on the books, which allows for additional penalties for a drunk driving conviction with a child passenger in a vehicle. Mr. Aurora would like to prevent alcohol impaired drivers in Maryland from ever getting behind the wheel and driving intoxicated with a child in their car or truck again.

He writes on his website: “Driving drunk with a child in the car is beyond reckless, and we have the tools to save lives. There is no better way to protect these children than ensuring that their drivers are sober.”

We couldn't agree more.

Related Maryland Accident Attorney article:

When Police Officers Deliver Tragic News : Someone Has Been Killed in a Maryland Drunk Driving Accident (Oct. 2011)

Sources:

Maryland to Consider Ignition Breathalyzer for Adults Who Drive Children While Drunk
Maryland Delegate Sam Arora website Dec. 19, 2012

HB 0032 Drunk Driving - Transporting Minor - Ignition Interlock System Program
Maryland General Assembly website collected Dec. 19, 2012

November 22, 2011

As Maryland Thanksgiving Traffic Increases, So Do Risks of Drunk Driving Accidents

When it comes to tragic stories about injury and death on Maryland roads and highways, an experienced Hunt Valley, Md. personal injury lawyer has heard plenty. Our job is to help grieving clients through the legal process when a loved one has been injured or killed in a traffic crash, and another party is held liable. The stories we hear are heartbreaking, especially when traffic accidents could have been prevented. Drunk driving crashes fall in this category. A moment of poor judgment can lead to a life of heartache and regret -- on all sides.

While the holidays are a joyous time, each one brings the risk of celebrants drinking too much and getting behind the wheel. With Thanksgiving being the most heavily travelled time of year, the risk of being in a serious Maryland car accident -- whether caused by someone driving under the influence of alcohol, distracted driving, speeding, or other risk factors -- increases. In fact, the volume of cars and trucks on MD roadways is expected to increase this Thanksgiving week.

AAA predicts a 3.5 percent increase in overall 2011 Thanksgiving travel (including auto travel, air travel, and travel by rail), The Baltimore Sun reports.

For Maryland, AAA projects that 871,000 residents will travel 50 miles or more between Wednesday and Sunday to get where they need to go for Thanksgiving. Of that number, a whopping 799,000 are expected to travel by automobile. That's a whole lot of Marylanders traversing the state via highways, city streets, secondary roads, and rural Maryland back roads -- many tired and in a rush. Throw alcohol in the mix and you can understand why the Thanksgiving holiday comes with additional road travel risks.

Car accident injury attorneys are naturally concerned about Maryland drunk driving (DUI) crashes over the Thanksgiving holiday week. Many people enjoy celebrating the holiday feast with some beer, wine, or cocktails. It's football season, and for many Baltimore Ravens and Md. college football fans, beer and games go together like chips and dip. The problem arises when people consume alcohol and then think they're fine to get in their cars and drive home or someplace else.

Maryland Drunk Driving Statistics
Roughly one in three traffic accident deaths in Maryland involves alcohol-impaired driving. While overall car crash fatalities in Maryland have statistically been on the decline -- 547 deaths in 2009 compared to 591 deaths in 2008 -- the percentage of deadly crashes involving drunken driving has risen -- from 25 percent (145 deaths) in 2008 to 30 percent (162 deaths) in 2009. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2005 - 2009)

So be safe out there this Thanksgiving season. Maryland State Police will be out in force looking to stop motorists driving under the influence of alcohol, before they ruin their own -- or some other innocent family's -- holiday.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:

Prevent Drunk Driving Accidents in Baltimore, Maryland This Labor Day Weekend (Aug. 22, 2011)

Lessons Learned Abroad: Why Auto Accident Death Rates Are Lower in Europe Than in the U.S. (Sept. 15, 2011)

Source:

AAA projects 3.5 percent holiday travel rise
The Baltimore Sun Nov. 18, 2011

Related Web Resources:

The Baltimore Sun: Commuting and Traffic Resources

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

October 31, 2011

When Police Officers Deliver Tragic News : Someone Has Been Killed in a Maryland Drunk Driving Accident

In our 20+ years of work as Baltimore County, Maryland drunk driver accident injury lawyers, we've seen firsthand the terrible toll drunk driving crashes take on individuals and families. In an instant, lives are changed forever. In 2009, 162 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes in Maryland -- an increase from the 145 Md. drunk-driving fatalities in 2008*. People who survive these crashes may suffer serious injuries, including debilitating brain and spine injuries. All because someone got behind the wheel and drove under the influence of alcohol in Maryland.

Baltimore County, Md. injury attorneys understand the grief families suffer when a drunk driving crash claims the life of a loved one. Maryland law enforcers also work with families who suffer tremendous loss in these traffic crashes. In fact, police are charged with the unimaginably difficult task of informing a family that a loved one has been killed in a drunk driving crash.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) announced a new training program to help law enforcement learn how to inform families of a drunk driving related death. MADD found that police officers are often not adequately trained to deliver such unthinkable news. According to a MADD blog article:

A 2001 University of Florida study found that 41 percent of death notifiers had received neither classroom nor experiential training in death notification, although 70 percent had performed at least one notification. As a result, most victims report that this type of early interaction added grief to their experience, rather than making it easier.

MADD works to train law enforcement on compassionate ways to deliver death notifications and to offer families resources to deal with their grief. The organization recently announced plans to create an online course for Oct. 2012 that will help "train officers, first responders, social workers and medical personnel on how to compassionately deliver death notifications."

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) works to raise public awareness about preventing drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. The organization lobbies lawmakers to strengthen laws against drunk driving. MADD's National President, Jan Withers, who comes from Maryland, campaigned to lower the illegal limit of blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers from a .10 BAC to a .08 BAC, both on the national level and in our state of Maryland. MADD also puts human faces on drunk driving fatality statistics.

As Sparks, Maryland DUI / DWI accident injury attorneys, we sympathize with our clients and with every family who has suffered a loss due to a drunk driver.

*Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland : 2005-2009 (PDF)

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

Maryland Governor Aims to Curb Drunk Driving Traffic Accidents and Deaths (Feb. 5, 2010)

Sources:

Preparing officers for a life altering task
MADD Oct. 26, 2011

Police trained in delivering tragic news
USA Today Oct. 25, 2011


August 22, 2011

Prevent Drunk Driving Accidents in Baltimore, Maryland This Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend is nearly upon us. Here in Baltimore County, Md. and around the country, the long holiday weekend gives people one last chance to enjoy some R&R with family and friends before the fall school schedule swings into gear. Like all other holiday weekends, Labor Day is also a time of heavier traffic ... and alcohol consumption.

More alcohol + more traffic on Maryland roads and highways is a bad combination that leads to serious and deadly Baltimore County auto accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced its annual public awareness campaign to curb alcohol and drug impaired driving now through Labor Day Weekend. NHTSA's Impaired Driving Division works cooperatively with law enforcement partners to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce traffic-related healthcare and economic costs resulting from impaired driving (that is, driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs).

Maryland Drunk Driving Fatality Statistics

Baltimore County, Md. accident injury attorneys work with families where a loved one has been injured or killed in a Maryland car crash.

Sadly, a contributing factor in nearly one-third of these serious and fatal Maryland traffic accidents is drinking and driving. NHTSA reports that of the 547 traffic accident deaths in Md. in 2009 -- 30% involved alcohol impaired driving above the legal limit of .08 BAC. While overall car crash fatalities in Maryland have trended downwards -- 547 deaths in 2009 compared to 591 deaths in 2008 -- the percentage of deadly crashes involving drunk driving has actually risen, from 25% in 2008 to 30% in 2009.

An experienced Baltimore car accident lawyer will tell you -- even one auto accident death is one too many. The statistics show we still have a ways to go to reduce drunk driving in Maryland. The National Strategy to Stop Impaired Driving includes advocating for…

> Highly visible law enforcement

> Increased drunk driver apprehension and adjudication

> Ignition interlock systems on automobiles for drivers with a history of drunk driving (to avoid recidivism and repeat drunken driving accidents)

> Programs that aid motorists in reporting drunk drivers to law enforcement, e.g., when they observe erratic drivers on the road. In Maryland, this is typically handled via a 911 general emergency called in via the #77 program, which routes the call to the Maryland State Police Barracks. The Maryland program is in place for motorists to report drunk or aggressive drivers. This program's limitations, reports NHTSA, include incomplete information from callers, not enough police on duty to respond to calls reporting drunk drivers, and/or insufficient cause for police to stop the suspected drunk drivers.

Please be safe this Labor Day weekend in Maryland. Don't drink and drive. If a friend or family member has had too much holiday cheer, take the keys and give them a ride. If you observe someone driving erratically on Md. roads or highways, use the #77 system in Maryland to drop a dime and alert law enforcement. We all have a part to play in making Maryland roads and highways safer -- over the long Labor Day holiday weekend and all year 'round.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Article:

Maryland Restaurant Sued for Liability in Fatal Drunk Driving Car Accident Case : SUV Crash Killed Girl, Age 10 (July 22, 2011)

Sources:

Stop Impaired Driving

Maryland #77 Program

Maryland State Highway Administration : Safety Programs

July 22, 2011

Maryland Restaurant Sued for Liability in Fatal Drunk Driving Car Accident Case : SUV Crash Killed Girl, Age 10

As of this past April, 37 states had laws on the books holding liquor vendors liable or partially liable for serving patrons who become intoxicated and then get in drunk driving auto accidents causing injury, death, or damages. These are called "dram shop acts" or "dram shop laws" -- and Maryland is not among states with such laws in place.

This is in part why a fatal DUI car accident case out of Montgomery County, Maryland, is garnering attention.

According to media reports, in Aug. 2008, a Fairfax, Va. man was consuming drinks at the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg, Md. News reports state that the individual consumed a staggering 14 drinks and 2 shots -- before starting a second tab. Restaurant staff reportedly served the individual 3 more beers and another shot, after which he got behind the wheel of his Land Rover. He reportedly drove south on Interstate 270 at speeds between 88 and 98 mph, crashing into a Jeep Grand Cherokee and killing a 10 year old girl sitting in the back. The child's guardians sued the restaurant for $3.25 million in Dec. 2010.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Eric M. Johnson is considering whether to send the lawsuit to trial, holding the Dogfish restaurant partially liable for this drunken driving crash that killed a child. The driver is serving eight years in jail with two years suspended for manslaughter.

A Baltimore County car accident injury attorney follows cases such as this one, when liability in a drunk driving accident is called into question. The judge's move in this case has been described as "gutsy," given Maryland has no dram shop law on the books. A Maryland news source writes that, "Maryland judges have previously ruled that creating dram shop laws should be the duty of the state legislation or appellate courts, not trial courts."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) writes that, "The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was four times higher at night than during the day (36% versus 9%)." In 2008, NHTSA reported that 11,773 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes -- that's nearly a third of all auto accident fatalities. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2008 Data: Alcohol Impaired Driving.)

Maryland has seen a recent uptick in drunk-driving fatalities, after three years of numbers declining: 145 people died in Maryland drunk driver accidents in 2008, compared to 162 deaths in 2009 (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland: 2005 - 2009.) It will be interesting to see if this Montgomery County case has an impact on laws related to Maryland drunk driving accidents and vendor liability.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Article:

Maryland Governor Aims to Curb Drunk Driving Traffic Accidents and Deaths Feb. 5, 2010

Sources:

Judge to write second decision on Dogfish case: Defense argues case should not go to trial because no applicable Maryland law exists
Gazette.net : Maryland Community News Online June 29, 2011

Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg sued for enabling drunk driving
The Baltimore Sun Dec. 16, 2010

Resources:

Alcohol 101: Dram Shop Liability and Legislation: Holding Retailers Accountable for Injury and Damages
The Marin Institute

June 29, 2011

Lighter Maryland Traffic Expected for July 4 Holiday -- But Drunk Driving Accidents Still a Public Safety Concern

Blame it on the economy and high gas prices…and maybe a little Maryland driver fatigue.

AAA Mid-Atlantic projects that Maryland traffic this 4th of July holiday weekend will be 2 percent lighter than last year, with an estimated 760,000 Maryland drivers taking to our state's roads and highways. Those who aren't piling into their cars, minivans, and SUVs to seek fun in the Maryland sun may opt for the "staycation" alternative instead. That is, leaving the family auto parked in the driveway is cheaper and safer than jockeying with other July 4 motorists.

But fewer July 4 holiday drivers doesn't mean driving this weekend in Maryland is without risks. Any holiday brings with it the risk of drunk driving accidents. A cooler full of beer is a backyard barbecue staple at many homes -- particularly on a hot Fourth of July afternoon.

People get into trouble, however, when they knock back a few drinks as they celebrate the Independence Day holiday, and then think they're OK to drive home over Maryland back roads, highways, and Baltimore city streets. You don't have to be falling down drunk to be impaired and a risk to yourself and other motorists and pedestrians on the roadways. Statistics tell a sobering story:

> The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2008, a total 591 Maryland traffic accident deaths occurred.

> Of those Md. traffic accident fatalities, 26% of drivers had blood-alcohol content (BAC) levels above the legal limit of .08

> Others had even more to drink before hitting the road and becoming involved in fatal Maryland auto crashes: 16% of drivers had a BAC of .15+

> Still, a percentage of drivers involved in fatal Md. auto accidents had BACs below the legal limit -- but still had some alcohol in their systems: NHTSA reports that 6% of drivers had a BAC between .01 and .07 %, bringing the total number of drivers in fatal auto crashes in Maryland in 2008 with a BAC of .01 or higher to 31%. That's nearly a third of all fatal crashes in Md. involving alcohol. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2008 Data: Alcohol-Impaired Driving)

The Baltimore Sun reports that Maryland State Police will be out in force this July 4 holiday weekend, with DUI saturation patrols looking to find and stop drunk drivers. Last year, Maryland police arrested 163 people for drunk driving over the July 4 weekend -- issuing more than 7,000 traffic citations and 5,000 warnings. Seven people died in Maryland auto accidents over the last 4th of July holiday. As an experienced Baltimore car accident injury lawyer, I know that one death on Maryland's roads and highways is one too many. Families' lives are shattered in an instant.

While we Maryland traffic accident injury attorneys work hard to help grieving families through the legal process (when issues of liability on the other driver's part are involved) -- we can't bring back the loved ones who were killed on the roads in Maryland.

See a link below to an interesting report that Time magazine just published, asserting that "buzzed driving is drunk driving" and that no amount of alcohol is a "safe" amount for drivers to consume and then get behind the wheel. The article points to research that even one beer can contribute to the driver speeding, becoming the "striking vehicle," and getting involved in more severe car accidents. So be careful out there this holiday weekend. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

Maryland Governor Aims to Curb Drunk Driving Traffic Accidents and Deaths Feb. 5, 2010

Sources:

Fewer Maryland travelers expected July 4
The Baltimore Sun June 27, 2011

Driving While Buzzed: No Amount of Alcohol Is Safe Behind the Wheel
Time.com June 22, 2011

AAA Mid Atlantic

September 29, 2010

Cecil County Pedestrian Traffic Accident Fatality : Driver Gets 2 Years Jail in Fatal Hit and Run DUI Case

A judge has sentenced a local man to two years in jail for a fatal Cecil County, Maryland pedestrian traffic accident.

This fatal pedestrian and truck accident occurred in the Elkton area of Cecil County, Maryland on the evening of June 14, 2009.

According to local news reports, a 57-year-old Cecil County man was driving his truck when he struck a pedestrian, age 44, who was on the roadside helping another man load a moped onto a parked truck. The victim was crushed between the driver's truck and the parked vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver fled the scene of the Cecil County, Md. auto accident and was later apprehended walking a short distance away, having abandoned his disabled vehicle. The driver's blood alcohol concentration level tested at twice the legal limit in Maryland. He was not taken into immediate custody and fled authorities as a fugitive, but was later apprehended by U.S. Customs at the Canadian border. A judge sentenced the driver to five years in prison for vehicular homicide before suspending three of those years.

Cecil County auto accident injury lawyers may be consulted by families who have lost loved ones or suffered injuries in Maryland motor vehicle crashes. In 2008, 152 people lost their lives on Maryland roads and highways in drunk-driving traffic accidents. (Source: Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2004 - 2008, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)

Drunk driver gets two years in jail for killing pedestrian
CecilWhig.com Sept. 27, 2010

Elkton-area man crushed to death in hit-and-run
CecilWhig.com June 14, 2009

August 24, 2010

Drunk Driving Prevention: Maryland Ramps Up Police Patrols and Sobriety Checkpoints through Labor Day Weekend

With Labor Day weekend fast approaching, the Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA) announced that several states will be launching drunk driving prevention and law enforcement initiatives -- including Maryland.

Maryland's efforts to deter deadly drunk driving accidents over Labor Day weekend and beyond include...

o Checkpoint Strikeforce: The Maryland Highway Safety Office's six-month impaired driving enforcement and education program, which kicks off Aug. 24 in Baltimore.

o Maryland Safe Ride Solutions: Part of a national initiative designed to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel by offering ride alternatives (in Baltimore and Landover).

o Nearly 75 % of Maryland law enforcement jurisdictions are participating in the statewide drunk driving traffic accident crackdown: 25 Maryland police departments will conduct 176 enforcement operations -- 150 saturation patrols and 26 sobriety checkpoints.

Baltimore, Maryland traffic injury attorneys see first-hand the damage and heartache that families suffer when someone gets behind the wheel after a few beers or cocktails. Maryland had more than 25,000 DUI arrests in 2006 and over 3,000 impaired driving crashes with injuries -- amounting to more than 5,000 injuries and 268 impaired driving deaths (Source: Checkpoint Strikeforce 2007 Factsheet.)

Even well-intentioned people celebrating Labor Day Weekend in Maryland -- at a family cookout or a night out on the town in Baltimore -- can make a deadly mistake if they drink and drive. Let's all end the summer on a happy and safe note.

GHSA 2010 Labor Day Crackdown

Checkpoint Strikeforce 2007 Factsheet

Related Web Resources

Maryland Highway Safety Laws
GHSA August 2010

Safe Ride Solutions

April 26, 2010

DWI Driver in Maryland Car Crash that Injured Judge May Go to Jail

Experienced Baltimore County, Maryland car accident attorneys know that when someone intoxicated gets behind the wheel, everyone on the road with them is at risk.

Anyone can be hurt or killed in drunk-driving traffic accidents—including justice and law enforcement officials who work to prevent such car, truck, and pedestrian accidents from happening. Last year on Aug. 21, a Maryland judge found himself in the path of a drunk driver, with serious consequences. It was not the first time the two had met.

The Washington Post reports that a retired Maryland judge and his wife, both in their 80s, were seriously injured when a man driving a Chevy SUV struck their Honda automobile. The car accident occurred in Montgomery County, Md. The judge's injuries included a leg fracture and broken ribs, and his wife suffered spinal injury and multiple broken bones. Ironically, the judge had spared the same man jail time when he stood before him in court years earlier, on a different drunk-driving charge.

The perpetrator has plead guilty to drunk driving in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Maryland, and this time, he may be sent to jail for his crime. Sentencing is scheduled for June 8.

Man could see jail time for drunken crash into Md. judge's car
WashingtonPost.com April 14, 2010

Drunken Driver Spared Jail Time Accused in New DWI Accident, and Judge Is the Victim
ABA Journal April 12, 2010

February 5, 2010

Maryland Governor Aims to Curb Drunk Driving Traffic Accidents and Deaths

Maryland traffic accident deaths have been on the decline in recent years -- down to a five-year low of 591 fatalities in 2008, as compared to 643 deaths in 2004. Deaths due to drunk-driving are also down -- 152 deaths in 2008 compared to 211 deaths in 2004. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2004-2008.) That's encouraging news for those of us who get in our cars, trucks, or SUVs every day and venture out on Maryland's streets and highways. But it's little consolation if you're among the people who lost their lives -- or the grieving families and friends they left behind.

In an effort to keep the numbers of Maryland drunk driving car accidents and fatalities going down, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has ordered a task force to organize and create a new state driving safety initiative. The Maryland Alcohol Safety Action Program (MASAP) hopes to reduce the number of repeat drunk-driving offenders by tracking those dangerous problem drivers "from the point of arrest, through adjudication, completion of treatment and beyond."

Baltimore, Maryland wrongful death lawyers know the carnage that can result when alcohol-impaired drivers get behind the wheel. Sometimes it seems the only thing that stops chronic repeat drunk-driving offenders is when their recklessness finally takes a life and they're convicted of vehicular homicide. We've all heard those sad, maddening news stories about some innocent person who lost their life because a repeat drunk-driving offender took to the road again under the influence -- despite multiple DUI citations.

The creation of Governor O'Malley's new program to follow repeat DUI offenders was recommended by the Task Force to Combat Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol, which worked to strengthen Maryland's DUI laws and programs in 2007-2008. His executive order follows a memorial ceremony held this past December, to remember the victims whose lives were senselessly cut short on Maryland's roadways due to alcohol related traffic accidents.

Maryland Forms New Alcohol Safety Action Program
Governors Highway Safety Association newsletter
Directions in Highway Safety, Winter 2010, Vol. 12, No. 3

MARYLAND REMEMBERS DUI VICTIMS AND FIGHTS BACK
Maryland Department of Transportation press release, Dec. 9, 2009

Related Web Resources

TASK FORCE TO COMBAT DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS & ALCOHOL
Maryland State Archives, Dec. 16, 2009

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)

January 22, 2010

Maryland Highway Traffic Safety Gets a Green Light, But Teen Drivers Need Tougher Regulations to Prevent Auto Accidents

Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety reports that Maryland is among a handful of states that get good or "green" marks for highway safety. However the group believes that Maryland teen traffic accidents could be prevented with tougher state laws restricting teenage drivers.

Maryland has a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program for teens and has adopted an all-driver ban on texting while driving (see blog entry on Maryland texting and driving ban).

Still The Washington Post reported that Md. "failed to make the grade in five areas, four of them restrictions on teen drivers and the fifth a requirement for use of interlock devices by all offenders." An interlock device is a handheld breath testing unit used to monitor whether drivers who have been charged with drunk driving -- a main cause of fatal highway accidents in Maryland and around the country -- are in fact under the influence when they attempt to start their vehicles. The device disables the car's ignition if the driver does not exhale a sober breath sample.

An experienced Baltimore County car accident injury lawyer keeps current on state laws governing teen drivers. They are aware of the heightened risk that occurs when teens get behind the wheel, particularly if they're texting, talking on cell phones, distracted by other young passengers in the car -- and if alcohol or drugs are involved. (See related blog item on teen driving laws in Maryland.)

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety group has issued a 2010 roadmap of recommendations urging states to pass additional safety regulations related to teen driving, impaired driving, child passenger safety, and other safety issues. DC joined Maryland in getting overall good marks for highway safety. Our neighbor Virginia, however, got poor or red marks. The Post wrote that the act of driving over Potomac River bridges brings motorists into dangerous territory for car, motorcycle, or truck and SUV accidents.

Va. is ranked among the worst states for highway safety
WashingtonPost.com Jan. 11, 2010

Related Web Resources

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

The 2010 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws

Safe Roads 4 Teens: Maryland Teen Driving Laws

December 21, 2009

New Year's Eve and Other Holiday Drunk Driving Car Accidents in Maryland

With the holiday season in full swing, everyone is scrambling. There's last-minute shopping, preparing for holiday parties and feasts, wrapping up year-end projects at work -- and increased travel by air, rail, and road. Unfortunately, drunk driving car accidents are also part of the holiday picture in Maryland and around the country.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that state law enforcement across the country will be cracking down on drunk drivers this holiday season, with the "Over the Limit, Under Arrest" campaign. People who overindulge in alcohol at family gatherings, work parties, New Year's Eve celebrations, and other holiday get-togethers pose a risk of serious personal injury (including debilitating brain or spine injury) or death to themselves and others. Nationally, 13,470 people were killed in 2006 in alcohol-related traffic accidents.

Maryland Drunk Driving Statistics and Holiday Traffic Accidents
Baltimore County, Maryland car accident lawyers know the human stories behind the statistics. In Maryland, 189 people died in drunk-driving accidents in 2006. And while the Maryland state rate of drunk-driving accident fatalities has been on the decline in recent years (178 deaths in 2007 and 152 in 2008 -- a decline of 12.5%), we know that even one death is one too many. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland, 2004 - 2008).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nationally, more fatal drunk-driving car crashes occur at night (36%) and on the weekend (31%) -- just when holiday parties are most likely to be held. In Maryland, we have snow, ice, and the rest of winter's fury adding to the hazards on our roads and highways.

So please: Drive sober, within the speed limit, and defensively this holiday season -- and be alert if you're coming home from a party. The night-time fatal drunk driving accident rate is four times higher than the day-time rate (9%). That's a sobering figure to keep in mind when you're driving to or from your destinations this holiday season. (Source: Traffic Safety Facts 2006 Data, Alcohol-Impaired Driving, NHTSA)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces Intensive Holiday Drunk & Impaired Driving Crackdown & Advertising Blitz
NHTSA Press Release, Dec. 7, 2009

Fatalities and Fatality Rates in Alcohol- Impaired-Driving Crashes by State, 2007-2008 (download PDF)
NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Research Note, Dec. 2009

Related Web Resources

Over the Limit, Under Arrest 2009 Campaign

Maryland Department of Transportation: Traveler Alerts

November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Traffic Accidents a Concern for Maryland Police: Add Increased Travel, Alcohol & Wildlife to the Mix

This Thanksgiving, as is the case every holiday season, law enforcement will be on the lookout to pull over speeders, reckless drivers, and drug- and alcohol-impaired drivers to prevent Maryland car accidents.

Though 2008 saw a decline in Thanksgiving travel, gas prices have stabilized to a level more drivers can live with, and the AAA predicts an uptick in holiday travel this year. That means more cars on Maryland's roads and highways as people travel to and from our fair state to visit family. Other factors contributing to danger on Maryland roadways this holiday season:

> County and wildlife experts report that deer-vehicle collisions in Maryland occur in the thousands every year. Exact numbers are hard to gauge, as it's unknown how many deer-car crashes occur that don't get reported. Deer in the roadway are a concern for holiday drivers, particularly as dusk comes earlier with the days getting shorter, and animals are active at dawn and dusk.

> Thanksgiving, football, and alcohol go together like turkey and stuffing. Unfortunately, all that merry-making can turn lethal when someone who's had too much holiday cheer picks up the keys and hits the road. Fatal drunk driving accidents ended the lives of 179 people in Maryland in 2007 (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2004 - 2007).

As Baltimore County car accident lawyers, we've seen how families can be torn apart when someone drinks and drives on the holiday or any other time in Maryland. A serious motor vehicle accident doesn't just ruin someone's holiday dinner. It can end a life or cause permanent, debilitating injury, such as brain and spine injury.

Whether you drive a motorcycle, car, truck or SUV -- be safe out there this holiday season and avoid accidents. Take your time, drive defensively, be aware of what's around you, and don't give Maryland police a reason to pull you over.

AAA Thanksgiving travel forecast: Highways more crowded
CNNMoney.com on Yahoo! Finance Nov. 18, 2009

Earthspan.org: Assessment of Deer Vehicle Collisions in Maryland

Related Web Resources

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

St. Mary's County Dept. of Public Works, Maryland: Deer Safety

November 17, 2009

Johns Hopkins, Baltimore Student Hit and Run Death: Police Review 911 Call Made Before Fatal Pedestrian Accident

The Baltimore Sun reports that city police are reviewing a 911 call placed shortly before a Johns Hopkins University student was killed in a fatal hit-run pedestrian accident in Baltimore City, Maryland.

On Friday Oct. 16, 2009, in the mid-afternoon, neuroscience student Miriam Frankl, age 20, was attempting to cross St. Paul Street at University Parkway when she was struck by a pickup truck. The driver in this fatal Baltimore City pedestrian - pickup truck accident fled the scene. Ms. Frankl suffered serious head wounds and died of her injuries at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Police later apprehended and charged Thomas Meighan Jr. of Carroll County, Maryland, in relation to the death of Ms. Frankl. News reports state that Mr. Meighan has a lengthy history of drunk driving traffic violations in Maryland, including another DUI hit-and-run arrest in Northwest Baltimore this past summer.

Police are now reviewing a 911 call from a man who wanted to report a white pickup truck driving in Baltimore City erratically about 90 mins. before Ms. Frankl was struck and killed. The Sun reports the transcript reveals initial confusion between the caller and police dispatcher, then apparently a decision was made that a cruiser would not investigate (see link below to 911 call transcript).

Maryland Pedestrian Fatalities and Drunk Driving Statistics
Baltimore City wrongful death lawyers may be consulted by individuals and families who suffer personal injury or lose someone they love because a driver got behind the wheel intoxicated, without regard for public safety. Some sobering facts:

> 116 people in Maryland lost their lives in fatal pedestrian traffic accidents in 2007.

> Over one-third of all fatal Maryland car accidents involved alcohol-impaired driving in 2007 (179 out of 614 traffic deaths).

(Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003 - 2007.)

Police to review 911 call in student's death
BaltimoreSun.com Nov. 13, 2009

Driving down the road to ruin
BaltimoreSun.com Nov. 1, 2009

Related Web Resources

JHU family celebrates student’s life
The JHU Gazette Nov. 9, 2009

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

October 23, 2009

Student Killed in Baltimore Hit and Run Pedestrian Accident; Carroll County Truck Driver Questioned

Baltimore City Police have questioned a Carroll County, Maryland man regarding a truck involved in a hit-and-run pedestrian accident that killed a Johns Hopkins University student. According to news reports, the 20-year-old victim was crossing the 3500 block of St. Paul Street at University Parkway when she was struck by a white Ford F-250 pickup truck traveling at a high rate of speed. She later died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The vehicle involved in this Baltimore hit-run truck accident sped off, however a witness took down the Maryland license plate number. That and news reports informing the public to keep a lookout helped police locate the vehicle. Police have questioned but not arrested a Carroll County, Maryland man, who has a lengthy history of traffic offenses, including 4 driving under the influence (DUI) arrests going back to the mid-1990s.

The individual being questioned has another DUI trial coming up in Dec. for an incident that occurred in July. He is charged with multiple offenses, including reckless driving and failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving bodily injury or death.

Maryland Pedestrian Traffic Accident Statistics
Baltimore pedestrian accident lawyers often work with individuals and families when someone is injured or killed due to negligent, reckless and/or impaired driving. In 2007, pedestrian traffic accidents took the lives of 116 people in Maryland -- the highest number in five years. Of the total 614 Maryland traffic fatalities for 2007 -- 179 involved alcohol-impaired driving (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003 - 2007).

Baltimore City Police continue to investigate this fatal Maryland traffic accident and have not arrested the Carroll County truck driver, who remains "a person of interest."

Police: Owner of truck in hit-and-run is 'person of interest'
Carroll Eagle, Oct. 21, 2009

Hit and Run Death Reveals Disturbing Past
ABC2News.com Oct. 21, 2009

Hopkins student dies of injuries
BaltimoreSun.com Oct. 18, 2009

Related Web Resources

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore Police Department

WalkingInfo.org

September 16, 2009

Baltimore County, Maryland Hit and Run Traffic Accident Kills Car Driver

The Baltimore Sun reported that a driver was killed this weekend in a fatal hit-and-run Baltimore County car accident.

According to news reports, the fatal hit and run crash occurred Saturday night at 10 p.m. in Baltimore Highlands at the intersection of Virginia Ave. and Annapolis Rd. The suspect, who was driving a cargo van, allegedly fled the scene of the accident but was later apprehended by police and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. The driver of the car that was struck by the van perished and a passenger suffered personal injury. The Sun reported that the driver was 20 years old and lived on Virginia Avenue, Baltimore. The suspect, age 54, is also from Baltimore.

Baltimore County accident lawyers are familiar with the many hazards of driving on Maryland's roads and highways. Some regional statistics...

Baltimore County and Baltimore City Traffic Fatalities for 2007
In the state of Maryland in 2007, there were 179 alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths (involving drivers with blood-alcohol levels above the legal limit of .08). Of fatal traffic accidents for that same year, 216 involved speeding and 120 involved an intersection. There were 72 deaths in Baltimore County (12 percent of the total for the state) and 47 in Baltimore city (8 percent of the total). (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003 - 2007)

In this fatal hit/run car accident case, the suspect was apprehended. Hit-and-run scenarios include drivers who failed to stop their vehicles following a car, SUV, motorcycle, truck accident, or pedestrian accident; who flee on foot; and/or those who cause an accident and either fail to exchange information, report the accident or offer assistance at the scene.

In some cases, where the hit/run suspect is never found, the victims' own auto insurance may "stand in" for the at-fault driver's insurance and provide coverage for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and property damage resulting from the accident. As always, it is best to consult an experienced Maryland injury attorney in hit and run auto accident situations. You may want to do this even before you contact your insurance company, so that your attorney can clearly explain the various scenarios which may unfold in this complex situation.

Victim identified in Baltimore County crash
The Baltimore Sun, Sept. 14, 2009

Driver dies in hit-and-run
The Baltimore Sun, Sept. 13, 2009

September 2, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Crackdown: Maryland Drunk Driving Accident Prevention

Labor Day traditionally heralds the end of summer. It's an opportunity for family and friends to get together one more time before diving back into the fall season's school-and-work grind. Not surprisingly, this long holiday weekend typically sees a spike in alcohol-related traffic accidents nationwide.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) / National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is ramping up its public awareness safety campaign in an effort to reduce the number of Labor Day car, truck, and motorcycle accident injuries and fatalities. Called "Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest," the campaign brings together law enforcement and public safety advocates to drive home the message that drunk driving is not an accident, nor is it a victimless crime.

The DOT reports that last year, 40% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents that occurred over Labor Day weekend were due to drinking and driving. Law enforcement will be cracking down on impaired driving this holiday weekend for drivers of all types of vehicles including motorcycles, cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks.

NHTSA reports that in 2007, some 13,000 people were killed in highway crashes involving drivers or motorcycle riders whose blood-alcohol levels were .08 or higher, above the legal limit set in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico. The agency wants to get the message across that drunk driving deaths can be prevented if people take precautions, such as designating a sober driver when they plan on consuming alcohol.

Maryland Drunk Driving Fatality Statistics
In Maryland, 179 people died in 2007 in alcohol-related traffic accidents. Though any death due to drunk driving is one death too many, the number in Maryland is down from a five-year high of 211 drunk driving deaths in 2004--in part thanks to law enforcement and public awareness safety campaigns such as this one (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003-2007). Too often, Maryland car accident lawyers witness how families' lives are changed forever when a party-goer drinks too much and gets behind the wheel. Be safe this Labor Day weekend. It's supposed to mark the end of summer -- not someone's life.

Stop Impaired Driving: Campaign Headquarters

Law Enforcement August/Labor Day Crackdown: Fact Sheet

Related Web Resources

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD):
Law Enforcement Officers Prepare for Labor Day Weekend

Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP):
Sober Ride Program

June 16, 2009

Cecil County Man Killed in Hit and Run Traffic Accident

News sources reported that a man from Cecil County, Maryland, died when he was struck by a truck as he loaded a moped into his parked vehicle.

According to news reports, this Maryland hit-and-run death occurred in the early evening on June 12. The victim, a 44-year-old Elkton man, was crushed between his car and the pickup truck that hit him, driven by a 55-year old man. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Charges may be filed against the driver of the truck, pending a decision by the Cecil County State Attorney. This fatal car truck accident occurred on Elkton, Maryland area roads.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has examined hit & run car accidents in the context of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. NHTSA reports that "it is well-known to law enforcement that many drivers flee the scene of a nighttime crash to conceal their alcohol-impairment." (Source: "Open Container Laws And Alcohol Involved Crashes," NHTSA, DOT HS 809 426, April 2002.)

According to Maryland state law, drivers involved in serious motor vehicle crashes are to remain at or as close to the accident scene as possible without obstructing traffic. The exact circumstances of this fatal Cecil County traffic accident remain under investigation.

Cecil Co. Man Killed in Hit-And-Run
WBOC 16 News June 15, 2009

Related Web Resource

Cecil County Maryland Government