In the early morning hours of Jan. 21, 2013, three women left a Massachusetts bar in a motor vehicle. During the trip, they were singing and dancing to the beat of the music in their seats. This was shortly before the driver lost control of the vehicle, resulting in a fatal car accident.
When police and other emergency responders arrived, it was discovered that the front seat passenger had succumbed to fatal injuries. The passenger in the backseat was easily extricated from the wreckage. She suffered injuries for which she was transported to an area hospital. The driver was trapped in the vehicle and was unable to speak. An officer on the scene reports that he did not smell alcohol on the woman's breath during the times he was close to her face while at the accident location.
No one who encountered the driver prior to the accident thought she was intoxicated, but a blood alcohol test done at the hospital revealed her blood alcohol concentration was .153 to .154, which is well above the .08 legal limit in the state of Massachusetts. As a result, she was charged with several offenses related to DUI. Recently, she pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and the other charges were dropped. A judge sentenced her to seven years of probation. During that time, she is not allowed to drive or otherwise be in control of a motor vehicle.
That fact may provide some measure of solace to the family of the deceased victim. However, that does not mean they will not exercise their right to file a wrongful death claim against the driver. The driver's plea and resulting sentence may be offered as evidence in such proceedings to establish liability. If the family convinces the court of the woman's negligence, damages may be awarded that could cover any monetary losses sustained in connection with the car accident. The backseat passenger may also be able to achieve a damage award in a similar personal injury claim, based upon evidence of driver negligence.
Source: wwlp.com, "Fatal crash nets penalties for driver", Carl E. Hartdegen, April 7, 2014