Georgia Woman Sentenced to 15 Years for Fatal DUI Accident When She was a Teen

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,597 people were killed in United States traffic accidents in December 2010. Of those, 775 deaths involved alcohol-impaired drivers. A 2006 study by the NHTSA estimated that there is one drunk driving fatality in the United States every 30 minutes.

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

Georgia has a zero tolerance law for underage drinking and driving. Though the illegal blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers over 21 years old is 0.08 percent, drivers under 21 can be charged with DUI with a BAC of 0.02 percent. Teen drivers can be charged with DUI in a minor accident if a chemical test indicates that they have a small amount of alcohol in their system. 

Recently a Georgia woman was sentenced to 15 years in prison as part of a plea deal for a January 2012 incident where she was responsible for a DUI head-on collision. The driver of the other vehicle died in the early morning accident. The woman, who was 17 at the time of the accident, was charged with vehicular homicide in the first degree, improper lane usage and underage DUI. A blood test showed that the woman's BAC was 0.102 percent or five times the legal limit.

The woman must serve three of the 15 years in prison as part of the plea deal and is required to wear an ankle monitor for another year. She must also speak to students at local high schools about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

The victim's family has potential claims against the driver for wrongful death. There are two types of death claims that may be pursued by the deceased's family under Georgia law: surviving family members may file a claim pursuant to Georgia's wrongful death statute or a claim may be pursued by the victim's estate. Wrongful death claims may involve complicated issues that include whether the victim left a will, his marital status, whether he had any children, whether he was due to receive an inheritance, the nature of medical care and expenses following the accident and whether the victim suffered as a result of the accident. A case's unique facts will determine who is entitled to settlement or verdict recoveries, which people may pursue wrongful death claims and the values of each claim. A successful claim is aided by the expertise of an experienced Clayton County wrongful death attorney.

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