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. Georgia 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. 

A Georgia teenager who was convicted of underage DUI in an accident that killed a 56-year-old woman was sentenced to spend three years in prison. The teen was charged with two felony counts of homicide by vehicle, two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence under the age of 21 and one misdemeanor count of failure to maintain lane. A blood test showed that the woman's BAC was 0.102 percent or five times the legal limit.

The teen was sentenced to 15 years, with the first three years in confinement and she 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 prosecution requested that the teen be sentenced to 15 years, with the first five years spent in prison. The defense requested a sentence of five years on probation and 120 days in a probation detention center. The defense also requested that the teen be allowed to finish the semester at Georgia College before reporting to prison but the request was denied by the judge.

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, her marital status, whether she had any children, whether she 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.

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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