About one in every three traffic fatalities involves a drunk driver, with hundreds of thousands of additional injuries being caused each year due to the negligence of intoxicated drivers. In addition to the strict criminal penalties for drunk driving, drivers can be held civilly liable for the damages they cause.
Drunk Driving Accident Statistics in Georgia
Relatively speaking, Georgia residents are more aware of the dangers of drunk driving than their counterparts in other states. Nationwide, 1.9% of adults report driving drunk within the last 30 days. In Georgia, only 1.4% of drivers admit to doing the same.
Georgia also has a lower than average rate of drunk driving deaths. In 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found 3.0 deaths per 100,000 state residents. The national average for the same time period was 3.3 deaths per 100,000 residents.
Although it’s encouraging to hear that fewer Georgia residents are getting behind the wheel after having too much too drink, the state still lost over 3,000 people to drunk driving within the past decade. Teens and young adults are most likely to lose their lives as the result of a drunk driving crash, although nearly 20% of fatal crashes involving children under age 15 were caused by an impaired driver.
Georgia’s DUI Laws
According to Georgia law, anyone over age 21 driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is considered legally intoxicated. Several factors affect BAC, but three or four drinks in one hour is typically enough to make an adult over the legal limit. At this point, coordination, concentration, perception, and information processing capability are affected.
For drivers under 21, the BAC for a drunk driving charge is 0.02%. For the typical young adult, this is equivalent to consuming one to two drinks per hour.
A DUI charge has harsh consequences, even if the driver does not cause an accident. For a first-time offense, penalties include possible jail time of up to one year, a license suspension of up to one year, and 40 hours of community service. There is also a minimum $300 and maximum $1,000 fine with a $210 license reinstatement fee.
Drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 who are convicted of a first offense DUI will have their license suspended for 6 months (if their BAC is under 0.08%), or for 12 months (if their BAC is 0.08% or higher). A first DUI offense for a driver age 15 or younger will result in a driver's license suspension until the driver turns 17.
Subsequent offenders of all ages face higher fines and longer jail terms, as well as the requirement to seek a clinical evaluation and complete a substance abuse treatment program.
Georgia has an “implied consent” law that allows law enforcement officers to require a blood, breath, or urine test to determine the BAC of drivers who have been stopped with probable cause. If you refuse to take a chemical test under these circumstances, then your license will be suspended for at least one year and your refusal may be used against you in court. Testing is also standard after a crash where alcohol is suspected as a factor.
Types of Accidents Caused by Drunk Drivers
Drunk drivers are prone to making a number of dangerous errors. For example:
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Failing to stay in the correct lane
- Failure to yield
Depending upon the speed of the vehicles and whether or not those involved were wearing seat belts, drunk driving accidents can result in everything from cuts, lacerations, and broken bones to traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, or death.
Those who are injured in accidents caused by a drunk driver can file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The family members of those who lose their lives in fatal crashes can file wrongful death claims to seek reimbursement for medical costs up to the time of their loved one’s death, funeral or burial costs, loss of financial support, and the loss of their loved one’s companionship.
Enlisting the services of a qualified attorney is the best way to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process of filing your claim and negotiating a settlement. Rechtman & Spevak is committed to assisting Georgia’s drunk driving accident victims in obtaining the settlements they deserve. Call 404-355-2688 or complete our online contact form to learn more.