Passenger Liability for DUI Accidents

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. Georgia DUI injury attorney Shane Smith can sort through the intermingled laws that potentially create complications in a DUI case.

A landmark lawsuit in another state involves two 17-year-old passengers who are being charged as accomplices for allowing a 17-year-old driver to get behind the wheel when they knew she was drunk. The lawsuit, which is alleging passenger liability for DUI activities when they knew the driver was impaired, uses the same concepts as Georgia's Dram Shop Act.

Georgia's Dram Shop Act provides that someone may become liable if they knowingly sell alcohol to a noticeably intoxicated person when they know that person will soon be driving.

Accomplice liability is unusual in DUI cases, which are classified as "general intent crimes" where a person intends to engage in the conduct that constitutes a criminal offense. By contrast, "specific intent crimes" such as murder require that the offender intends to accomplish a goal beyond merely the prohibited act.

Some general intent crimes like reckless driving have included accomplice liability in certain states. For example, some states hold another drag racer liable if one racer is involved in an accident.

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

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