Accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be catastrophic, traumatic, and often fatal. Yet, these auto accidents are easily preventable, despite being so common. Getting behind the wheel, even after consuming a small amount of alcohol, creates a huge risk. Unfortunately, in spite of all warnings, awareness campaigns, educational programs, rules, regulations, and the law, people continue to drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs, not only putting their own lives at risk, but also the lives of all the other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Driving under the influence or DUI in Atlanta, Georgia, is a serious offense and can result in major fines, indefinite suspension of your license, and jail time.
DUI and Aggravated DUI in Atlanta, Georgia
Driving under the influence (DUI) is the crime of operating a vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or other drugs, including recreational and prescribed drugs, to a level that makes the driver incapable of being safe behind the wheel. In Atlanta, a driver can be found guilty of DUI even if his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is less than 0.08. A police officer may perform field sobriety tests on the driver to determine if he or she is incapable of driving. Field sobriety tests include tests to check the driver’s balance, attention level, and physical ability.
Most DUI cases are misdemeanor charges, but a simple DUI can turn into aggravated DUI if there are any aggravated factors or circumstances involved. Some circumstances that contribute towards the severity of a DUI charge include:
- If driving under influence causes another person to be injured
- If driving under influence resulted in the death of another person. This is known as DUI manslaughter and is the most severe type of DUI charge
- If the intoxicated driver was involved in a hit and run accident
- Driving in an intoxicated condition with a child under 14 years of age
- If the driver had a prior DUI offence on record. In Atlanta, Georgia, each DUI will stay on an individual’s record for 10 years. So, if the driver is charged with another DUI offence within those 10 years, he or she will face harsher penalties.
How to Respond to an Auto Accident Involving an Intoxicated Driver
The moments immediately after an auto accident are the most stressful and confusing, but it is important to stay calm and try to help yourself as well as any other people that were involved in the accident, regardless of whether you caused the accident or not. While you may be rightly upset with a drunk driver for causing your accident, don’t let this cloud your judgment. If that individual, is injured, you should still provide aid to anyone you can help.
Start by calling for medical assistance if you or anyone else at the accident site requires it. Then, report the accident to the police. It is important to do so even if you were the DUI driver that caused the accident. If you are the DUI driver, cooperate with the police, but be careful about what you say, and contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can.
Regardless of whether you were the victim or the DUI driver, it is essential that you do not leave the scene unless you are seriously injured and must be transported to a hospital. If you aren’t injured, you must wait until law enforcement arrives at the scene.
Seeking Compensation From a Drunk Driver for Damages in Atlanta, Georgia
Drunk driving continues to endanger everyone on the road. If a drunk driver causes an accident, he or she generally faces criminal charges. However, if you or a loved one were injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you can also file a civil suit to claim damages.
The damages that will have to be compensated by the driver who was driving under the influence include medical bills, funeral expenses in case of death, compensation for death, lost wages, property damage, and any other legal, medical, and out of pocket expenses.
If you are a family member of a person that was killed by a drunk driver in Atlanta, Georgia, you too, can sue the driver. You can claim compensatory damages if you financially depended on the deceased, and/or compensation for any emotional pain, suffering, or trauma that was caused to you or your deceased family member. The court will order the driver to provide compensatory damages in such cases. However, the compensation for unearned income depends on several factors, like the deceased’s annual income, life expectancy, and so forth. Punitive damages may also be ordered in an effort to deter the driver from engaging in such behavior in the future.
In Atlanta, Georgia, when DUI accidents result in injury or death, the law does not require the injured party to prove malice or intent on the part of the intoxicated driver. As long as a person was driving under influence, and caused an accident, he or she can face civil and criminal consequences, and will not have much defense. Defenses such as that the intoxicated person did not intend to get into the car, or did not intend to harm another person are not considered. Further, if found guilty of driving while intoxicated and injuring another person, the DUI driver can be charged with a felony and may face up to fifteen years of imprisonment. In cases where the DUI driver caused injury or death to multiple people in the accident, each injured individual (or survivor) can file a separate civil suit against the driver.
Contact Ted A. Greve & Associates to Learn More
If you have been injured in an auto accident that was caused by a driver that was driving while intoxicated, then you can file a civil suit to claim damages. However, the processes involved are complex and having an experienced attorney by your side could greatly minimize your stress and maximize your compensation. Contact the dedicated Atlanta GA auto accident lawyers at Ted A. Greve & Associates right away to start exploring your legal options.