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 nuanced and complex. This is why it is important to consult Georgia DUI injury attorney Shane Smith. There are many intermingled laws that create many potential complications in a DUI case.
- My car was hit by a drunk driver who just left a bar after watching a Georgia Bulldogs game. Is the bar liable for our injuries and damages?
Places that serve alcohol to someone who is clearly intoxicated while knowing that the person would likely soon be driving can be held responsible according to Georgia's Dram Shop Laws. This is codified in Section 51-1-40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.).
The place that provided the alcohol may be held liable for injuries to third parties caused by a customer if the victim can prove three issues:
1. The defendant (bar, restaurant, etc.) knowingly furnished alcohol to someone under 21 years old, or to a person (21 or older) who was clearly intoxicated;
- The defendant did so knowing that the minor or intoxicated person would soon be driving a motor vehicle; and
- The act of providing the alcohol was the proximate cause of the victim's injuries.
- Is a driver who is in an accident with my vehicle liable for damages and injuries if he has a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent at the time of the accident?
If there is evidentiary proof that the impaired driver violated a traffic law and this was the proximate cause of the damage and injuries then Georgia law views that driver as negligent per se. It would be essential to show the BAC reading from a breath or blood test contained in the police report. A Georgia BAC of at least 0.08 percent is considered legally intoxicated. Drivers under 21 may be convicted of DUI with a BAC of 0.02 percent. Commercial vehicle drivers and truck drivers with a BAC of 0.04 percent may be convicted of DUI.
- Can I sue a driver who was impaired by prescription medication?
A driver who is impaired by any substance is liable for any accident he causes. This would include prescription medications that cause drowsiness or fatigue, over-the-counter medications with known side effects, illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, and mind-altering substances such as glue-sniffing or bath salts.
Methadone, a prescription substance used to help addicts to overcome their addiction, can also be the cause of impaired driving. Methadone has many known side effects including drowsiness, dizziness, dulled response time and sensory reduction. Methadone prescriptions warn against driving after taking the drug.
- Can I sue an impaired driver who killed a family member who was crossing the road in a crosswalk?
In Georgia a wrongful death claim is filed by surviving family members though the court views the family as the victim's representatives. According to Section 51-4-1 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.), the order of the appropriate party to bring the wrongful death claim is: the spouse, children, or the victim's parents (if there is no living spouse or children).
Georgia juries in wrongful death claims may consider the victim's life, age, health, business situation, activities and other facts relevant to the case. Jurors may also consider the victim's expected earnings during the duration of his working lifetime, his medical benefits or retirement/pension that would have been accrued, any expected inheritance he had not yet received and the victim's physical or mental suffering endured prior to death as a direct result of his injuries.
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? If you would like to discuss your case with a Georgia drunk-driving victim attorney, contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith at 866-979-1629 to schedule a free legal consultation.