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Parents Sue Stores that Sold Alcohol to Teen in Fatal Accident, Driver to Serve Nine Years

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According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), DUI accident fatalities increased from 9,865 in 2011 to 10,322 in 2013. The NHTSA reported that the majority of DUI accidents with fatalities involved drivers whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.15 percent or higher, or almost twice the legal limit. 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.

The parents of a 16-year-old girl who was killed when her drunk 17-year-old boyfriend crashed while racing filed a wrongful death against two retailers who sold alcohol to the driver on the night of the accident. One store sold him a 30-pack of beer and another store sold him vodka. The wrongful death suit alleges that the stores sold the driver the alcohol despite his license stating that he was under 21.

The driver lost control of the girlfriend's car while racing with some friends, causing it to overturn and strike a tree. The girl was killed in the accident and the driver was charged with DUI and vehicular manslaughter. He was sentenced to serve nine years in prison.

Georgia's Dram Shop Act provides that a person who sells, furnishes, or serves alcohol to an intoxicated person of lawful drinking age shall be liable for injury, death, or damage the person causes because of their intoxication. The law is intended to prevent bars, restaurants and stores from selling alcohol to minors and people who are visibly intoxicated.

At trial the judge learned that the driver had been pulled over for DUI under 21 less than two weeks before the fatal accident. According to Georgia law he was still able to drive and had 10 days to request a hearing or his license would be suspended. He pled guilty to that charge.

The driver denied he was under the influence of alcohol and refused to give a breath test. According to prosecutors the friends who he was racing with raced to the accident scene and allegedly attempted to hide beer. Prosecutors claimed that 23 minutes passed between the accident and anyone calling 911.

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.

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?

Category: DUI Victims

Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia

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