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Drunk Driving Accident Laws in Georgia

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Posted By Legal Team | March 30 2023 | Car Accidents, Drunk Driving Accidents

Georgia takes drunk driving very seriously. According to Georgia law, driving with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08% or higher is illegal and carries a DUI charge. For commercial drivers, a BAC of .04% or higher is considered driving while intoxicated and commercial drivers face even stiffer fines. Drivers suspected as under the influence of drugs face similar fines and penalties if drugs are found in their urine tests after an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence. Penalties include up to 12 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for a first offense and then penalties and fines substantially increase with each subsequent arrest.

While all drunk driving arrests are very serious, the criminal charges and liability risks increase substantially when a drunk driver causes an accident.

What Happens When a Drunk Driver Gets in an Accident in Georgia?

When an accident occurs and one of the drivers is legally intoxicated, the criminal penalties for drunk driving become severe, especially if someone is injured or killed in the accident. The state issues further charges and penalties in this type of accident in addition to the standard DUI charge. Common charges in DUI drunk driving accidents can include one or more of the following:

  • DUI homicide by vehicle
  • DUI Serious injury by vehicle
  • Reckless driving
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident
  • Attempting to elude
  • Hit and run

Jail time for this type of offense may be up to 15 years, depending on the seriousness of the injuries, whether or not there was a fatality, and any additional charges. Drunk drivers who caused an accident with injuries also face increased or withheld bail and lengthy license suspensions. The Atlanta personal injury attorneys at our firm have experience handling these types of cases and representing injured victims of drunk driving accidents.

Liability In Drunk Driving Cases

While it may seem self-evident that drunk drivers face liability for car accidents in Georgia’s at-fault insurance laws, you might be surprised to learn that a drunk driver’s insurance policy doesn’t automatically pay out claims based on the driver’s intoxication alone. Instead, as with all accidents, insurance companies require investigative evidence that the policyholder caused the accident. In most—but not all—accident cases, the drunk driver bears liability, but only when the police and attorney investigations clearly show that the driver’s reckless driving or negligence caused the accident and it wasn’t caused by the other driver or a third party. 

For instance, a drunk driver may engage in the following reckless or negligent actions:

  • Running a red light
  • Speeding
  • Making unsafe lane changes
  • Tailgating
  • Swerving into oncoming traffic
  • Entering one-way streets or one-way traffic lanes the wrong way
  • Falling asleep at the wheel

Intoxicated drivers have less impulse control, slower reaction times, reduced alertness, and sometimes aggressive driving tendencies. Any of the above actions constitute reckless or negligent driving behaviors that would make a drunk driver liable to pay for the economic and non-economic damages they cause in an accident. 

What Damages Can I Receive After a Car Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver?

Police officers, eyewitnesses, medical experts, and accident reconstruction specialists can all help prove liability on the part of a drunk driver. Motorists owe a duty of care to keep others on the roads safe by following traffic laws and driving with reasonable care. Drunk and reckless driving breaches that duty. The driver’s insurance company must pay compensation to accident victims for damages caused by their policyholder including the following:

  • Medical expenses and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages and future lost wages for ongoing necessary medical treatment
  • Lowered earning capacity if the injury was disabling
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish, PTSD, and trauma

An Atlanta car accident attorney with experience in drunk driving liability cases can help investigate your claim and maximize your chances of recovering damages so you can focus on recovering your health.

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