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.


Driving under the influence (DUI) refers to the criminal act of operating an automobile while impaired by alcohol or drugs. While most impaired accidents are attributable to alcohol, impairment from drugs accounts for approximately 18 percent of automobile fatalities. Almost 30 people die in the United States each day in an alcohol-related accident. This calculates to one death every 48 minutes. In 2009, nearly one-third of all traffic-related fatalities were from DUI accidents.


DUI fatalities have declined over the last ten years. Part of the reason for this encouraging statistic could be increased law enforcement including sobriety checkpoints and DUI task forces.


The Nighthawks Task Force was initiated in October 2004 and the 10 members are the most highly trained Georgia DUI law enforcement officers.  The Nighthawks patrol Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties during peak hours associated with impaired driving. In 2006, the Nighthawks DUI Task Force received the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) National Impaired Enforcement Award for their 2005 work.


The Nighthawks Task Force is funded with a Governor's Office of Highway Safety grant. It was initially funded by a Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (H.E.A.T.) grant of more than $1 million. H.E.A.T. is a Georgia governor's office initiative aimed at reducing impaired and high-speed driving. It is required to make 65 monthly "contacts" with those suspected of DUI to meet the program's grant requirements. Since its implementation the task force has averaged nearly 600 monthly contacts. A study is being conducted to determine the Nighthawk program's needs and whether additional troopers will be trained for the task force.


There has been a decrease in DUI-related traffic fatalities in recent years, presumably due to increased DUI enforcement. There were 12,998 DUI-related fatalities nationwide in 2007. By comparison, the figure for 2006 was 13,491; this is a decrease of 3.7 percent in one year.


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 the Law Offices of Shane Smith to schedule a free legal consultation.

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