Ingrained as part of Montana's culture, it is not uncommon to witness someone sipping a beer at the wheel. A casual drinking attitude has been commonplace in the state for decades. Binge drinking is seen as just a part of the college lifestyle while walking out of the bar with a to-go cup is just another funny quirk of the small town bar. This relaxed view on drinking perpetuates Montana as having some of the worst drunk driving statistics in the nation. Drunk drivers can be held responsible for the suffering they create in their path through civil suits.
Drunk driving continues as a rampant problem in Montana
Montana has one of the highest fatality rates caused by impaired drivers. In 2014, Montana held 38 percent of the total national drinking and driving fatalities, resulting in 73 deaths. Desperate to counteract Montana's drinking and driving culture, state legislature made big steps to change previously lax penalties last May. Laws have now changed to double the minimum fines, increase DUI task forces, and boost maximum sentences for DUI offenders. Even with these laws in place, people choose to get in their car and drive drunk every day.
Drunk drivers can be held responsible for damages
Drunk drivers face criminal prosecution for their actions but can also be held responsible for damages in civil suits from someone injured in the accident or their family. Civil suits are intended to compensate the injured person when the drunk driver was severely negligent in order to deter the driver and others from the same behavior in the future. Civil suits can cover costly medical bills, lost wages from missed work, and the general pain or suffering that the injured person or their family has endured.
Due to Montana's shared fault rules, the injured must be able to prove that they are not to blame for the crash. The shared fault rule can reduce the amount of damages the injured receives if they are determined to be somewhat responsible. In many cases the drunk driver is completely at fault and should be taken to court. If you or a family member has been hit by a negligent drunk driver then consider speaking with a lawyer about filing a civil suit.