Drunk driving is normally defined in Massachusetts as operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs and/or with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit of .08. However, when a teenager gets behind the wheel, the teen should not have consumed any alcohol at all since underage drinking is not legal in Massachusetts. As such, zero tolerance laws apply to hold a teen driver criminally liable and to suspend the license of the teen driver when there are any detectable traces of alcohol. When the teen has a blood alcohol content of .02 or higher, he or she can be considered guilty of violating zero tolerance laws.
These zero tolerance laws make sense because, according to the Centers for Disease Control, whenever a teen has any alcohol in his system, the risk of being involve in a car crash is greater for the teen driver than for older drivers. The zero tolerance laws may also make it easier for someone who is the victim of a drunk driving crash with a teen to make a personal injury claim under a legal doctrine known as negligence per se. To learn more about drunk driving, zero tolerance laws and their impact on your case, it is advisable to speak with an experienced Boston personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC.
Drunk Driving Liability in Massachusetts
According to the Centers for Disease Control:
- 26 percent of male drivers between age 15 and 20 who were involved in a fatal car crash had consumed alcohol at the time of the crash.
- 25 percent of drivers between ages 15 and 20 who died in motor vehicle crashes had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher at the time of the crash as of 2008.
- Almost three out of every four teens responding to a 2007 survey had indicated that they had driven with a driver who'd consumed alcohol within the previous month.
- One out of every ten teens responding to the 2007 survey revealed that they themselves had gotten behind the wheel after drinking.
These statistics show that many teen drivers are still taking the chance of driving while drunk or are getting in cars with friends who have drank. Unfortunately, this means that many teen drivers are still causing or contributing to Boston car accidents and to accidents throughout Massachusetts.
If you are involved in an accident with a teen driver who appears intoxicated, you may be able to make a personal injury claim against the teen. In fact, negligence per se rules stipulate that you will not even need to prove that the teen was negligent in order for you to recover damages. It is enough to show that the teen was violating zero tolerance/safety laws and caused injury as a result of the violation.
The law does not limit recovery against drunk teen drivers to people who get hit by the driver either. In some cases, passengers who were involved in a teen drunk driving accident may also sue the driver who caused them to suffer harm.
On the other hand, teens who are driving drunk and who cause an accident typically have limited options for recovery. These teens may be able to get their medical bills and lost wages, if any, paid by personal injury protection (PIP) since this type of insurance is required of all drivers by Massachusetts law. However, they will not be able to receive compensation for damages and losses above the policy limit or for pain and suffering that occurred as a result of the accident. The only exception to this would be if someone else was partially or totally responsible for the accident (despite the drunkenness) in which case the other party could be held responsible for some or all of the damages that occurred to the teen depending upon the percentage of fault attributed to the third party driver.
To learn more about how a Boston car accident lawyer can help you after a teen driving accident involving drunk driving, contact The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC today at 888-367-2900 or online.