Oregon State Police (“OSP”) reported that Carrie Ames, 22, was arrested September 3, 2010, on two counts of manslaughter in the first degree, DUII, and assault in the second and third degrees after being released from the hospital for minor injuries in a fatal hear-on collision car accident in Klamath County on September 2. OSP officials say Ames was driving a 2009 Toyota Corolla eastbound on the Southside Bypass near Washburn Way when it veered across the center line.
Tragic Loss in Fatal Oregon Car Crash
Ames reportedly then collided head-on with a westbound 2000 Dodge Stratus driven by Billy Don Barton, age 66, from Dorris, California. Mr. Barton and his wife Donna, age 62, were pronounced dead at the scene. OSP officials said that the couple’s grandson, six-year-old Daba Phillips, sustained critical injuries in the deadly car crash. An air ambulance transported the boy to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. Injuries to a passenger riding with Ames, Jackie Mankins, age 18, were reported as minor. Our deepest sympathies are extended to the Barton and Phillips families.
Oregon DUII Statistics and Laws
According to Oregon Department of Transportation (“ODOT”) data, crashes involving alcohol and/or other drugs account for nearly half of the fatal and serious injury crashes occurring in Oregon each year. Many crashes involve youth that are inexperienced both as drinkers and drivers. Fortunately, the percent of fatalities that were determined to be alcohol-related has decreased from 41.4% in 1998 to 39.7% in 2007, the most recent year for which data were available. Tougher enforcement may be a major part of the reason. ODOT statistics show that DUII convictions were at their highest point in 10 years in 2007 with 10,455 offenders. Under Oregon DUII law as stated in ORS 813.010(1), “A person commits the offense of driving while under the influence of intoxicants if the person drives a vehicle while the person: [h]as 0.08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in the blood . . . .”
Driving under the influence of alcohol is always a serious offense, but more is required to charge first-degree manslaughter. Under ORS 163.118, criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter in the first degree when “it is committed recklessly or with criminal negligence by a person operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants in violation of ORS 813.010 and [t]person has at least three previous convictions for driving while under the influence of intoxicants . . . in the 10 years prior to the date of the current offense . . . .”
Civil Action for Harm Caused by Impaired Drivers
In addition to criminal punishment, the at-fault driver in an Oregon fatal car accident case may be held financially responsible for the harm caused to victims and their families. A wrongful death claim may be filed seeking compensation for lost future earnings, as well as the love and companionship taken by reckless or negligent conduct.
An impaired driver involved in a car accident is not liable simply because he or she was intoxicated. If the driver’s condition caused the car crash or it occurred because of negligence on his or her part, however, then he or she may be held accountable in a civil trial. Intoxication is not a defense to liability for damages resulting from an Oregon car accident.
Consult an Oregon Car Accident Lawyer
An Oregon auto accident lawyer can assist injured victims or the families of those killed by driver negligence. The Law Office of Dane E. Johnson provides a free, confidential attorney consultation in all motor vehicle injury cases. Contact us toll free at (800) 714-3204 or online.