According to the NHTSA, a person dies in a drunk driving accident every 52 minutes in the U.S. That’s 28 people each day. In 2019, more than 10,000 people lost their lives in drunk driving accidents; tens of thousands were severely injured and traumatized.
Drunk driving deaths are easily preventable. It is a choice to get behind the wheel buzzed or intoxicated — a choice that often costs an innocent person their life.
As drunk driving accident lawyers, we can’t take away a family’s pain, but we can ease their burden. It’s our job to ensure the accident victim’s life is remembered and valued, both as the person they were and the experiences they had yet to live.
Drunk Driving Fatalities in Georgia
In Georgia, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 25% of total accident deaths. Over 70% of these deaths involved drivers whose blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.15 or higher.
To understand how intoxicated a person is at that level, consider the following:
- 0.02 BAC - At this level, a person is buzzed and may experience a decline in visual function and ability to perform two tasks at the same time.
- 0.05 BAC - A person will start to experience exaggerated behavior, impaired judgment, and lowered alertness. Coordination and visual tracking are reduced. Behind the wheel, the driver will struggle to steer and notice danger.
- 0.08 BAC - Muscle coordination, speech, reaction time, judgment, self-control, and memory become impaired. While driving, the person has difficulty concentrating, remembering short-term events, processing information, and controlling their speed.
- 0.10 BAC - Reaction time, speech, thinking, and bodily control deteriorate. On the road, the driver will struggle to maintain their lane and brake at appropriate times.
- 0.15 BAC - Poor muscle control, loss of balance, and vomiting at this stage. Behind the wheel, there is a substantial loss of vehicle control, attention to the road, and visual and auditory processing.
Even more distressing: 100% of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes in Georgia who are repeat offenders have a BAC of 0.15. Such drivers must be held accountable for their reckless actions.
Legal Options After a Fatal Drunk Driving Accident
There are two ways to pursue justice against a drunk driver: criminal and civil. A solicitor or prosecutor will be involved on behalf of the state, county, city, or municipality to prosecute the drunk driver for their criminal actions. They are responsible for opening up a criminal investigation.
While this is happening, family members of the deceased can hire a wrongful death attorney to ensure that they are rightfully compensated for their loss.
In most cases, the drunk driver’s insurance company is liable for compensating accident victims. Full compensation may include reimbursement for ambulance and emergency room expenses, medical bills, prescription charges, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional suffering.
Dram Shop Laws and Social Hosts
Compensation can also be sought against establishments or other negligent parties that negligently served alcohol to the drunk driver, such as a bar or at-home party.
In Georgia, dram shop laws place potential liability on bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and pubs if they serve alcohol to someone who is underage and/or visibly intoxicated and causes a collision after leaving the business.
Likewise, a person who allows alcohol to be consumed in their home or at a party they are hosting assumes responsibility if an impaired driver leaves their residence and causes a wreck.
Filing a Claim for Punitive Damages
In addition to DUI charges, Georgia law allows punitive damages to be brought against the defendant as an additional form of punishment in the civil arena.
Punitive damages are intended to punish the driver for operating a vehicle under the influence. Hopefully, it will deter them from repeating the behavior in the future.
Atlanta’s Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Hiring a drunk driving lawyer is the best step you can take to find peace of mind after losing a loved one in a DUI crash. A drunk driving accident attorney can help advise and navigate the complex and lengthy legal journey you’ve begun.
At Gary Martin Hays & Associates, we understand the emotional circumstances you face as well as the legal hurdles the insurance company and others may try to put in your way. We treat our clients with compassion and professionalism during the process, ensuring they are cared for every step of the way.
If you lost a loved one in a drunk driving crash due to no fault of their own and aren’t sure what to do next, contact our accident attorneys for a free consultation.