Connecticut Motorist Sentenced for Killing Pennsylvania Motorcycle Driver

Intoxicated Driver Gets Up to Six Years After Pleading Guilty to Homicide

A Westmoreland County courtroom was the recent setting for a reminder the danger drunk drivers pose to innocent motorists and pedestrians. On February 8, Marcin Maryniak recounted how he had slammed into Joseph Lagalski's motorcycle, killing him and badly injuring Legalski's passenger Tammy Hoyman.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Maryniak admitted he "had a couple of drinks," before driving that night, claiming he did not see the motorcycle when turning into a local convenience store. Under Pennsylvania state law, any blood alcohol content of .08 or above is considered intoxicated, and Maryniak's was at .145 at the time of the accident.

In addition to the criminal sentencing, Legalski and Hoyman's two children currently have civil lawsuits again Maryniak and a local bar that served Maryniak alcohol drinks.

Dramshop Acts

Legalski's children are seeking compensation from the bar under Pennsylvania's "dramshop" law. Like many states, including Connecticut and Massachusetts, Pennsylvania aims to prevent drunk driving by holding any businesses responsible that serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated adults. The term dramshop stems from England, where gin was served by the dram, and is now a legal term in the U.S. for any business that serves alcohol.

Dramshop laws generally hold that a bar or restaurant can no longer serve any patron that is visibly intoxicated. A bar does not necessarily need to count the number of drinks served, but must look to characteristics typical of drunkenness, such as imbalance, bloodshot eyes and slurred words in order to determine if someone is intoxicated. If the victim or family of the deceased can show that a reasonable person would know the patron was intoxicated, but the bar still served the individual, the victims may be able to get compensation from the bar.

Establishments that serve alcohol to minors - no matter how little the minor consumes - are also held liable for any resulting injuries or deaths in the states mentioned above.

If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you may be able to get compensation from the establishment that over-served the offender. Dramshop laws differ from state to state, so contact an attorney to discuss your options.