Massachusetts now applies two statutory offenses to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The first, original offense is known as either driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). This designation is based upon a Massachusetts police officer’s observations, which include driver behavior, slurred speech and oftentimes is the result of a roadside sobriety test. The second offense is considered to be illegal per se and requires the driver to take a breathalyzer test to determine their blood alcohol content. Since 2002, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts with a blood alcohol content that is .08% or higher.
In 2009, Frederick Stern and Kathleen Stern were driving along I-95 in East Lyme, Connecticut. Sherri Hunter, the driver of another car, slammed into the back of the Sterns’ car and pushed their vehicle down an embankment next to the highway. Hunter was traveling at 60 miles per hour. Kathleen Stern suffered fractures to her hip, ribs, lower back, pelvis and toe. She needed emergency surgery and later needed surgery on her hip. Frederick Stern sustained a broken nose, broken bone in his face, and injuries to his left knee, which required surgery. Hunter had a blood alcohol level of .21 and was charged with second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, driving while intoxicated and failing to have insurance on her vehicle.
According to the Connecticut Law Tribune, the Sterns filed a lawsuit against Lyme Tavern Café, the restaurant and bar where Hunter worked and consumed alcohol; Caspers Limited, the company that ran the bar; Steven Carpenteri, the general manager and owner of the bar; and Franklin McEwen, its permittee. The Sterns did not sue Hunter because she was uninsured. Hunter admitted that she drank on the job, while working as a waitress at Lyme Tavern Café. The jury found the bar and other defendant to be 40 percent at fault. The other 60 percent of liability was given to Hunter, although she was not a party to this lawsuit.