An Oregon resident who lost his wife in a fatal wrong-way collision caused by a drunk driver will receive a settlement of $500,000. According to the Mail Tribune, the state agreed to settle his lawsuit over allegations that it should not have issued a driver’s license to a motorist with a record of DUI offenses. The insurance company for the minivan driven by the drunken motorist agreed to pay $100,000 as part of the settlement.
The 58-year old woman was driving home after working a late-night shift when the drunken motorist struck her with his minivan. While driving the wrong way on Interstate 5, he hit the woman’s car and scraped off the majority of its driver’s side.
The husband filed a legal action against the state arguing that the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles should not have issued the drunken motorist a driver’s license. According to the lawsuit, the state was liable for his wife’s wrongful death because officials at the DMV allegedly failed to conduct a search on the motorist’s driving record in California.
The suit claimed that if someone had conducted a search, he or she would have discovered that the state of California previously revoked and suspended the drunken driver’s license. A search would have also disclosed the motorist’s record of five prior DUI convictions along with his serving two prison sentences.
While Oregon officials defended the state DMV by claiming its systems had no way of checking the motorist’s record, it appears this is not true. The state’s rules require DMV agents to check license applicants in a national database that discloses drivers with previous issues. The DMV may not issue a license to an individual who has a revoked, cancelled or suspended driver’s license in another state, as noted on the Oregon Driver & Motor Vehicle Services’ website.