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Man Pleads Guilty to 2014 Fatal Crash in New Mexico

Posted in Drunk Driving

Almost exactly one year ago, a Utah man was involved in a tragic accident that took the life of his passenger when the car he was driving crashed on the side of the highway. According to a New Mexico news report, the accident occurred in San Juan County, New Mexico.

At the time of the accident, police reported that the driver’s vehicle was stopped in the gravel on the side of the road. The car was clearly damaged, and there was a tree that was lying on the ground near the front of the vehicle. When emergency personnel arrived, the driver had his hand on the chest of the passenger. There were just two people in the vehicle.

Unfortunately, when paramedics arrived they determined that the passenger was dead. At the time, the driver told police that the passenger had attempted to kick him out of the car, but he was unable to explain why he was visibly injured with scratches and covered in dirt. The driver’s blood alcohol concentration was determined to be .04, and he was subsequently arrested on DUI charges.

Later, police learned that there was actually a third individual in the car who fled before police arrived. This individual was located and told police that the parties had been drinking before they got into the car and that the driver had lost control of the vehicle. The driver was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter and let out on supervised release. However, a later drug test indicated that the driver also had amphetamines in his system, and he was taken into custody. The driver pleaded guilty and will likely be sentenced to somewhere between 37 and 46 months.

DUI and Dram Shop Liability Laws in New Mexico

In negligence cases in which an individual caused an accident because of their drunkenness, the victim may wish to pursue a claim against the driver as well as the entity who served the driver the alcohol that resulted in the driver’s intoxication. There are very specific and narrow laws that dictate who is liable in these situations and under what circumstances. New Mexico is one of the states that does allow liability claims against a host who recklessly serves alcohol to a guest.

In the above case, it seems that the parties were drinking prior to the accident, it is unclear whether it was just the alcohol that caused the accident or the mix of the alcohol and drug use. However, depending on the circumstances, the injured parties’ representatives may wish to pursue a claim against the bartender or host, as well as the driver, under New Mexico’s Dram Shop laws.

New Mexico’s Dram Shop laws explain that a victim or injured party of a drunk driving accident can hold an alcohol vendor liable if:

  • The vendor knew that the person purchasing the alcohol was drunk; or
  • The person’s intoxication was apparent to the vendor; and
  • The vendor sold or served alcohol to the drunk individual.

It is important to note that the drunken individual cannot collect any monetary compensation or damages from the vendor unless there is a finding of “gross negligence” or “recklessness.”

Have You Been Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident, you should consider seeking representation from one of the attorneys at the Fine Law Firm. These cases are quite complex because of the nuances in the law and the number of parties involved. If you are successful, an attorney can help you collect damages against not only the driver but also possibly the bar or host that provided the alcohol as well. Contact the Fine Law Firm at 505-889-FINE to schedule your free initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

DWI Suspect Involved in Fatal New Mexico Crash Free on Bond Awaiting Trial, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 27, 2015.

New Mexico Woman Arrested after Arriving at Husband’s DUI Stop Drunk, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 6, 2015.