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Blue Laws Repeal a Backward Step for Rex DUI Prevention

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2,597 people were killed in United States traffic accidents in December 2010. Of those, 775 deaths involved alcohol-impaired drivers.


Georgia's Driving Under the Influence Laws are complex. Rex DUI injury attorney Shane Smith can sort through the intermingled laws that potentially create complications in a DUI case.


Approximately 50 Georgia cities approved Sunday alcohol sales in 2011 referendums after Georgia eliminated the statewide ban subject to local voter approval. The new policy has permitted alcohol sale in Clayton, Cherokee, Gwinnett, Fulton and DeKalb counties by liquor stores, grocery stores and convenience stores. A number of cities near Atlanta were among those approving Sunday alcohol sales including: Alpharetta, Auburn, Avondale Estates, Braselton, College Park, Duluth, East Point, Grayson, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Milton, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Snellville, Sugar Hill, Suwanee, Union City, Villa Rica and Woodstock.


Data about the effects of Blue Law repeals is inconclusive. A New Mexico study analyzed Sunday accident data between 1990 and 2000 after Blue Laws were repealed in 1995. According to the study, the Sunday accident rate increased by 29 percent after the ban was lifted. Sunday alcohol-related fatalities increased by 42 percent following the repeal. However, a UC Irvine study of auto accident rates following Blue Law repeal in the Canadian province of Ontario revealed only minimal auto accident rate increases.


According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), some DUI deterrents are more effective than others. For example, zero tolerance laws proved largely ineffective at reducing the incidence of DUI fatalities. The premise behind such laws was that anyone under 21 with a measurable amount of alcohol in their system could be punished regardless of whether their blood alcohol concentration was above a set limit (0.02 percent in Georgia for those under 21 years old). Drunk driving rates in many states remained similar when comparing rates two years before and two years after zero tolerance policy enactment in the 1990s. Additional ineffective measures include short jail sentences, large fines and increased alcohol prices.


A more effective measure is administrative license suspensions (ALS). Interestingly, criminal license suspension laws had little measurable effect on drunk driving while administrative laws and their ability to impose virtually immediate punishment have been effective drunk driving deterrents. The NHTSA study supposes that a punishment's timing is more significant than its severity. A driver's license is an essential part of daily activities so the threat of losing it serves as an effective deterrent. Similarly, immediate suspension of a license upon failure of a breath test reduces fatalities by approximately five percent.


If you have questions about Georgia DUI laws, get the answers in Rex DUI injury attorney Shane Smith's book, I Was Hit By a Drunk Driver: What Do I Do Next? Contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith to schedule a free legal consultation.

Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia