If you have been injured in an automobile accident, which was caused by another driver who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be seriously injured and wondering how to proceed. In a “normal” auto accident, the circumstances may prove that it really is nothing more than an accident. Either your insurance, or that of the other driver, will pay for your medical expenses and lost wages, and you will move on.
In a situation where you were injured because the other driver was impaired, you could also be entitled to punitive, or “extra” damages. There are really no excuses for impaired drivers – every adult is fully aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, or using drugs and driving. Even so, impaired drivers get behind the wheel on a daily basis, making a voluntary decision to risk injuring or killing another human being, despite the fact that driving while drunk or drugged significantly increases the driver’s chance of causing a serious car accident. Wrongful death or serious injuries such as traumatic brain injury, paralysis, amputation, and severe burns could result from an impaired driver.
Georgia’s Impaired Driving Laws
Section 40-6-391 (a) of the O.C.G.A. details Georgia’s impaired driving laws, stating a person must not drive while he or she is:
- Impaired by any drug to a point that makes it unsafe to drive
- Impaired by a toxic vapor, aerosol, or glue to a point that makes it unsafe to drive
- Impaired by a combination of any two or more of the above substances to a point that makes it unsafe to drive
- Has a BAC of 0.08 percent or more within three hours of driving
- Has any level of marijuana or another controlled substance existing in the blood or urine – regardless of whether there is any alcohol present in the blood or breath.
Georgia’s Stance on Drunk or Drugged Driving
Georgia has a zero tolerance prohibition against drugged driving (known as per se). This means that all it takes for an arrest is reasonable belief, on the part of the police officer, that the driver is under the influence of a prohibited drug while driving. Actual evidence of impairment is not required in this situation. If a driver is arrested for drugged driving, he or she will be charged with driving under the influence, and DUI penalties will apply.
According to MADD statistics, in the state of Georgia drunk driving fatalities represented 25.2 percent of all traffic deaths in 2015. The U.S. Department of Transportation notes that about a third of all DUI accident victims are not the intoxicated drivers, but rather are their passengers, pedestrians, or people in other vehicles. Georgia juries do not take accidents caused by impaired drivers lightly; while punitive damages are generally capped at $250,000 under Georgia law, when alcohol or drugs are a factor, punitive damages can be unlimited.
Dram Shop Liability
Georgia’s dram shop laws make it possible to hold specific people or businesses liable for injuries caused by an intoxicated party. Dram shop laws apply to:
- Night clubs
- Liquor stores
- Convenience stores
- Grocery stores
- Concert venues
- Sports venues
- Party hosts
- Other alcohol servers
When one of the above over-serves alcohol to a patron or guest who is obviously intoxicated, then that person or business can be sued if the intoxicated person kills someone on his or her way home. The goal of dram shop laws is to prevent hosts or businesses from selling alcohol to those who are visibly impaired. Proving fault in dram shop cases can be difficult; the question arises as to just how visibly intoxicated the person actually was, and whether the server or host was aware that person was planning on driving.
How Evans Litigation and Trial Law Can Help
If your accident with injuries was caused by a drunk or drugged driver, or if a host or establishment has violated Georgia’s dram shop laws, I will work hard on your behalf to ensure that you receive compensation for your injuries. When negligence is a factor in an auto accident – as it surely is when the driver who caused the accident was drunk or under the influence of drugs – I will go above and beyond to hold the negligent person accountable. With more than 16 years of experience, I have defended trucking cases, automobile cases, and premises cases. I have worked for insurance companies, and therefore, I have great insight into the mindset of the insurance industry. Evans Litigation and Trial Law should definitely be on your list of those to call following an auto accident. Call us today at 1-404-334-8009 or fill out our confidential contact form for more information.