Drivers on the road today are cautioned to watch out for distracted, negligent or even intoxicated drivers. Pedestrians can become car accident victims can become victims when they on the road or even walking in an area near moving vehicles. Such was the case in Missoula recently.
Most Montanans know that drunk driving is a serious public safety problem. But many may not realize that Montana has one of the most serious drunk driving problems in the nation. Data from 2012 shows that Montana ranked second among all states in drunk driving fatalities per 100,000 people. In 2012 there were nine deaths due to drunk driving accidents per 100,000 population in Montana. The only state that fared worse was North Dakota, with 10.3 deaths per 100,000 population.
The sudden loss of a loved one in an auto accident is devastating for family members. When the loved one was killed in a drunk driving accident, in addition to shock and grief there is usually a desire to see justice done.
A violent car collision disturbed the peace of a Billings residential neighborhood and sent two people to the hospital about a week ago. Billings Police say speed and alcohol were involved, and they are investigating it as a drunk driving accident.
A person driving a pickup or an SUV on a Montana highway is piloting two tons of steel at speeds that often hit 70 mph or more. It's a serious responsibility, and one most drivers take for granted. But throw alcohol into the mix and the potential for serious injury or death becomes very real. Authorities believe drinking may have been a factor in a recent head-on-collision near Kalispell that killed two people.
In a Yellowstone County courtroom recently, the children of an elderly couple killed by a drunk driver spoke poignantly about what it was like to lose their parents. The couple's son spoke of his father asking repeatedly for his wife in the intensive care unit. When he was told that she had died in the accident, he became silent. He died three months later, without ever leaving the hospital. A daughter spoke of her parents as good people who deserved justice. The judge sentenced the driver, a 54-year-old Broadview woman, to prison.
A tragic accident on the Crow Reservation last year has resulted in a murder conviction for one of the drivers involved. The 26-year-old man pleaded guilty to second degree murder in a case arising out of the accident in which four people died. The drunk driving accident serves as a stark reminder of the deadly consequences of drinking and driving.
The holiday season should be a time of relaxation and family togetherness. Unfortunately, December is one of the worst months in Montana for drunk driving accidents. For those who lose a loved one in a car accident caused by a drunk driver over the holiday season, future holidays will probably never be the same.
An engaged couple are two of Montana's most recent victims of drunk driving. The couple was killed in a car accident involving an alleged drunk driver in the Thompson Falls, Montana area in September. Two children of the male victim were seriously injured. The alleged drunk driver, a golf pro and the chairman of the Thompson Falls School Board, has now been charged with four felonies, including two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of child endangerment.
The State of Montana takes drunk driving very seriously. Under state law, drunk drivers are held criminally and civilly responsible for any injuries or deaths they cause in a car accident. In addition, Montana law provides that a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol to a person who is already visibly intoxicated can be held liable for damages in a civil lawsuit, if the intoxicated person injures or kills someone in a drunk driving accident. A lawsuit filed recently in Missoula County District Court seeks to hold a Missoula bar liable under this law, known as the Dram Shop Act.