St. Patrick’s Day is a fun and festive time for people of all ages. It’s an annual celebration of all things green, and at least for that one day of the year, we can all pretend to be just a little bit Irish. Unfortunately, for far too many American families, St. Patrick’s Day has ended in tragedy. It’s such a problem that one NBC affiliate has labelled it the “deadliest day of the year”.
Modern technology and creative innovation have led to the rise of a "sharing economy" in the United States today. There are peer-to-peer vacation rental services (such as AirBnb), peer-to-peer businesses (such as Ebay), and perhaps the most controversial of all: peer-to-peer car services. These dynamics are all relatively new, and very few details have been established as to who holds liability for whatever may go wrong. The very question has the potential to incite an entire series of debates, but for the purposes of this post, we are going to discuss car-sharing specifically.
There's no denying that this model has caught on like wildfire, especially in larger cities and even more so on weekends and holidays. It makes sense. It's affordable and incredibly easy to access. However, making the decision to offer your vehicle up as a form of public transportation is seriously risky business. On the other side of the same coin, what happens if you are involved in a car wreck while you are riding as a passenger in one of these vehicles? Who will be held responsible for compensating you for your injuries? These are the questions that ride-sharers have failed to consider, and in just a few short years, we've seen an unfathomable number of conflicts arise as a direct result. (This fatal collision in Boston, for example, or this 6-year old child who died after being hit by a negligent Uber driver in San Francisco).
Insurance Concerns for Drivers
Ride-sharing giants like Uber and Lyft carry insurance for their drivers. That is, the insurance becomes effective when the passenger is picked up and deactivates when the passenger is dropped off at his or her destination. Sounds legitimate, doesn't it?
Vehicular manslaughter, also sometimes known as "vehicular homicide", occurs when an auto accident has caused the death of another person, and the driver was negligent in some way. This might mean that the driver was speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or disobeying any other traffic law. Essentially, the driver was reckless while behind the wheel, and another person died as a result.
In Mississippi, if convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), you face penalties from both the court and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08%, and if you are found driving with a BAC of higher concentration, you are almost guaranteed to receive an alcohol-related citation (and some pretty hefty penalties, along with it). Even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you are opening yourself up to significant trouble if you choose to drink and drive. You can view a list of possible penalties at DMV.org.
A man has been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) for a crash that killed two people earlier this summer. According to WAPT News Channel 16, 31-year-old Joseph White was indicted in July on two counts of aggravated DUI causing injury or death. The May 8, 2015 crash took the lives of 56-year-old William Raney and 52-year-old John Raney. At this time, very few details have been released, but we do know that White surrendered at the Warren County Sheriff's office on Monday. Also, there was no word on what his blood alcohol content (BAC) level was at the time of the crash. If convicted, he could be facing between five and 25 years in a federal prison facility for each count of DUI causing injury or death.
WJTV News Channel 12 recently reported on the fatal crashes happening across Mississippi during the month of December. Already, from December 12 to December 14, there have been 11 possible crash deaths, which is 8 more than this time last year. The holiday season is notorious for an increase in deadly and injury-causing crashes across the country. Not only are there more commuters and travelers on the roadways, more people are having holiday celebrations with alcohol this time of the year. It's a dangerous mix, which means that the roadways are not as safe as they are during other times of the year.
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over
Local and state law enforcement agencies will be stepping up their efforts to catch drunk drivers this season. In addition to "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" national ad campaigns, additional officers will be dispatched over the holidays to increase visibility and enhance enforcement.
The Facts on DUI's and Crash Fatalities
• During the 2012 holiday season (December 12-31), 1,698 people were killed in crashes across the U.S.
• Nearly a third of those fatalities occurred in drunk driving related wrecks.
• On Christmas day in 2012, 26 people were killed by impaired drivers.
• In December of 2012, 830 people were killed by drunk drivers.
• In 2012, 33,561 people died in motor vehicle crashes across the U.S.
If You Have Been Arrested for DUI
If you've been arrested for DUI this holiday season, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Depending upon the circumstances, you could be facing jail time and hefty fines. If injuries are involved, cases can quickly become complicated.
If You Have been Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident
Victims of drunk driving accidents also need legal representation. Car accidents involving criminal charges can also quickly become complicated. You need an attorney who understands the civil and criminal legal systems. Your lawyer can stay on top of investigations, and make sure your rights are being protected. Don't count on being "in good hands" with your insurance company either. Let your personal injury lawyer handle the details, while you focus on spending time with your family and feeling better after your accident.
On October 1 of this year, the DUI laws in this state got a face-lift. As with most changes to our laws, there are some very happy groups and some not-so-happy groups. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was very happy about this change in penalties for driving under the influence--though some groups originally pushed for a lower Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Luckily for restaurateurs and social drinkers, the desired change of BAC from the current 0.08 to 0.05 did not occur. However, the DUI laws did see some substantial changes in the latest legislative session.
Over the holiday weekend, law enforcement officers with the Mississippi Highway Patrol (MHP) made 20 DUI arrests in the Metro area. Statewide, there were 203 DUI arrests by the MHP. According to WJTV News Channel 12, the MHP started their holiday operational hours from Thursday evening to Sunday. It's not uncommon for local and state law enforcement authorities to step up their efforts to catch suspected drunk drivers over holiday weekends. The total number of DUI arrests in Jackson and statewide is unknown, because these numbers don't reflect arrests made by local law enforcement authorities.
I've recently had several people call in about getting ticketed for having an open container of alcohol, usually in conjunction with being arrested for DUI. Many of these callers have all said the same thing: "But my friend told me there were no such things as open container laws in Mississippi! They can't arrest me for that!" In doing some research for this post, I also found this article on Huffington Post, which may be where my potential client's "friend" got his information. And while I still caution you on using any legal advice or information given to you by your friend--unless, of course, your friend is a lawyer--in the case of open container laws in Mississippi, he might be right.
Asserting your rights when you have been pulled over by a police officer for DUI is difficult for most people to do. Besides the worry that you may be wrong about your legal rights, there is also the fear that comes along with being pulled over. The result is that most times, drivers allow police officers to trample their rights without having any recourse.
Recently, a group in Florida has created "DUI flyers" that can be used if a person is stopped at a checkpoint. The flyer sends a very clear message to the police officer (I'm not talking, I don't want my car searched, I DO want my attorney). An example of the flyer can be seen below:
The purpose of the flyer is to communicate to the police officer that the driver is fully informed of his or her rights and to remind the driver about what should be done during a DUI checkpoint. The flyer reminds the driver to not speak to the police officers and that they are not required to cooperate with the police. The flyer appears to give the driver sounds advice about what they can do to protect their rights.
Should you have a flyer? While it might useful immediately after you are pulled over, it will probably cause you just as much grief and ridicule from the officers who stop you. I believe there are five important things that you can and should do once you are stopped: