Drunk and drugged driving accidents continue to occur despite strict laws in the state of Maryland and across the country. Driving under the influence can result in both criminal charges and civil liability. Maryland enacted the Drunk Driving Reduction Act, or Noah’s Law, which took effect in October 2016. The law mandates that an ignition interlock device be installed if anyone is convicted of driving under the influence. Even with the state’s strict laws, there were still around 7,000 crashes in 2018 involving at least one driver’s use of alcohol or drugs. Victims of DUI accidents may be able to recover compensation for their injuries and losses through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit.
A plaintiff may be able to file a negligence claim or another type of claim to recover damages stemming from the DUI crash. In a civil case, the liability of the driver must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence—a lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that applies in criminal cases. In some cases, evidence from a criminal case or traffic offense can be admitted in a civil proceeding. In Maryland, if a driver pleads guilty to a criminal charge or a traffic offense in court, evidence of the plea normally can be admitted in a subsequent civil proceeding. when admissible, the evidence may be rebutted or explained by the driver. Notably, if a driver pays a traffic ticket outside of court, courts in Maryland generally will not admit evidence of the payment of the fine as an express acknowledgment of guilt.
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