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With so many miles of winding mountain roads and natural hazards like deer, elk, rock falls and downed trees, driving in Montana can sometimes be dangerous. But you don’t want to increase the risk with drunk drivers on the roads.
The good news is, alcohol-caused fatalities in auto crashes are down in Montana. The bad news is, they’re still significantly higher than in the rest of the country. Here’s a closer look at the drunk driving problem in Montana, and what you can do if a drunk driver impacts your life.
Montana doesn’t look so good stacked up against other states. In 2019, there were 72 fatalities in the state resulting from alcohol-impaired driving. That might seem small compared to the 10,136 deaths nationwide. But when you break it down by population size, it looks a little more bleak.
According to the Montana Department of Transportation, alcohol-related driving fatalities made up 66 percent of deaths on Montana roads in 2020, up from 58 percent in 2019. And per 100,000 people, Montana had double the national average: 6.2 deaths compared to 3.1 nationwide. When it comes down to it, a single death is too many. But there’s clearly a problem here.
The law is very clear. Anyone driving with a blood-alcohol level over .08 in the state of Montana is looking at a DUI. That means hefty fines, a suspended license, and the possibility of jail time. And anyone driving with an elevated blood-alcohol content above .16 can expect enhanced penalties.
The law doesn’t just extend to the driver at fault. Montana’s dram shop law means that the individual or establishment that overserved the drunk driver could be held responsible in civil courts. So in certain circumstances, the bar where they had drinks could also be at fault.
The harm drunk drivers cause goes well beyond a statistic. Driving drunk doesn’t just impact that person who gets behind the wheel after they’ve had too many. It can also lead to deaths of innocent bystanders and other drivers.
There’s a lot more at play here than just numbers. Each statistic represents lives lost, families shattered, and sadness that won’t ever go away entirely. And in some cases, it can mean injury with hefty medical bills.
If you suspect that the driver responsible for the crash was driving intoxicated, it’s even more important to call 911 right away. Report your injuries, document the scene of the crash if you can, and keep a record of medical treatment and cost. You might be entitled to compensation beyond just an insurance claim. The pain and suffering caused can be substantial. The driver who caused you that harm shouldn’t get away without repercussions.
For help with your personal injury case, the legal professionals with Cok Kinzler are there for you. Get in touch for your free consultation, and find out how the law can let you find a way forward.