New Mexico statute 66-8-102 prohibits people from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs. Drivers who are impaired, whether due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or for any other reason, offer strong evidence of negligent conduct if they are involved in an accident.
Normally, the levels of intoxication shown in the blood are admitted into evidence for the drivers involved in the accident, and sometimes for passengers as well. This may be true even if the person is not intoxicated beyond the legal limit. The question of whether a person’s level of intoxication may be admitted into evidence depends on whether the person could have avoided or mitigated the accident by exercising due care—that is, by being sober and alert. Drivers may also be considered impaired for other reasons, including fatigue, a physical disability, or driving without a license.
Intoxication and Punitive Damages
Driving while intoxicated or impaired may also give rise to punitive damages. If a defendant’s conduct is found to be willful, wanton, malicious, reckless, oppressive, or fraudulent, punitive damages may be imposed in New Mexico. Reckless conduct means acting intentionally with utter indifference to the consequences. This may be shown by demonstrating that a defendant was intoxicated while driving.
Punitive damages can be awarded to punish a defendant and to serve as a deterrent for others. New Mexico courts have held that drivers who have already been criminally prosecuted are still subject to punitive damages in civil proceedings. Courts have also found a punitive damages award was permitted when a driver suffered from a lack of sleep and had used marijuana shortly before the accident.
Driver in Fatal School Bus Crash Tested Positive for Meth
A truck driver who was recently involved in a tragic school bus crash tested positive for methamphetamine, according to one news source. The driver had been driving an 18-wheeler truck when it swerved across a highway and hit a school bus.
The school bus was carrying a school’s boys track team. The team’s coach was driving the bus and was able to get out of the way to avoid a full head-on collision. However, the team’s assistant coach was driving behind the bus and was hit by the truck. The assistant coach was killed in the crash, and 18 students were injured and hospitalized. The truck driver was also killed, and an autopsy report showed 0.19 mg/L of methamphetamine in his system.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact an experienced New Mexico attorney. At the Fine Law Firm, we focus on personal injury law in order to provide our clients with legal representation that is both extensive and focused. Our Albuquerque personal injury lawyers travel throughout the state, representing individuals who have been injured in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, and other serious injury claims, such as medical malpractice. To get a free initial consultation, fill out our online form or call us at 505-889-FINE.
More Blog Posts:
The Dangers of Distracted Driving on New Mexico Roads, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 13, 2017.
Apportioning Liability in New Mexico Personal Injury Lawsuits, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, May 17, 2017.