Drunk driving is a serious problem in Montana. For many people, the consequences are fatal. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drunk driving killed 932 people in the state in the ten-year period from 2003 through 2012. That averages out to about 93 deaths per year, and between seven and eight per month.
Montana’s death rate in drunk driving accidents is significantly higher than that of the U.S. as a whole. Nationally, the death rate in drunk driving accidents is 3.3 fatalities for every 100,000 people. In Montana, the rate is almost three times that: 9.4 deaths for every 100,000 people. For people ages 21 to 34, the drunk driving death rate is 6.7 nationally and 21.4 in Montana.
In every state, including Montana, if a motorist has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, they are deemed too drunk to drive. However, this doesn’t stop people from getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. In fact, according to one survey in Montana, 3.4 percent of individuals reported that they drove vehicle after having too much to drink in the past month. Nationwide, 1.9 percent of individuals reported that they drove a vehicle after having too much to drink in the past month.
When an innocent person is killed in a drunk driving accident, grieving family members may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the drunk driver. They can seek compensation damages for loss of companionship, loss of financial support, funeral expenses and other losses. In some circumstances the family may also be able to pursue a “dram shop” claim against the bar or restaurant that served alcohol to the intoxicated driver. None of this will bring back a lost loved one, but it can help a family recover financially from the tragedy.
Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, “Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving in Montana,” accessed Feb. 12, 2017