Everyone already knows that drunk driving is a bad idea. Everyone already knows that drunk driving can lead to some of the deadliest car accidents on the roads. But most importantly, everyone knows that there are still drunk drivers out there, and they’re dangerous.
Alcohol-related fatalities have declined over the years, but they still account for more than one in four deaths on Georgia’s roads. In 2014, 326 people died in alcohol-related accidents here in Georgia. Of that total, the vast majority (278 deaths) involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, contact The Stoddard Firm today. It’s important that you have an experienced car accident attorney you can trust on your side. The Stoddard Firm has years of experience with car accident cases, and we offer a free consultation to help you get started on your case. If you’ve been injured, contact us at 678-RESULTS today.
What Constitutes Drunk Driving?
The law sets different BAC limits for different types of drivers. A driver younger than 21 years old is considered to be driving under the influence (DUI) if he or she has a BAC of 0.02% or higher. For drivers of legal drinking age, the limit is a BAC of 0.08%. And for drivers of commercial vehicles, the limit is 0.04%.
That being said, a driver can be considered DUI regardless of BAC, as long as he or she is visibly impaired in driving abilities. As the numbers we mentioned above suggest, drivers with a BAC are significantly more likely to become impaired, but that does not mean driving with a lower concentration is safe.
Tougher drunk driving laws have reduced the occurrence of DUI, but they have not done away with it entirely. It is still necessary to be on guard against drunk drivers at all times.
The Numbers on Drunk Driving Accidents
From 2008 to 2015, the average number of annual deaths due to alcohol impairment in Georgia dropped from approximately 425 to approximately 300. Progress is being made, but alcohol impairment is still the second most common factor in roadway fatalities. Seat belt non-use routinely accounts for over 40 percent of Georgia’s road deaths each year, while the alcohol-related fatality rate usually hovers around 25 percent. Together, these highly preventable causes contribute to approximately 65 percent of roadway fatalities each year.
As you would expect, alcohol-impaired driving death rates are highest in urban areas, where traffic is heavier and alcohol is more readily available. Some of the highest rates of alcohol-related traffic deaths occur in Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah, Macon, Columbus, as well as college towns like Athens and Valdosta.
Impaired driving multiplies the risk that a crash will become fatal by six times. Stricter laws, increased law enforcement, and increased educational programs have worked to alleviate the problem, but they haven’t gotten rid of it entirely. Alcohol remains a significant danger on the roads, and it shows no signs of stopping soon.
Penalties for Drunk Drivers
A drunk driver who injures or kills another person in an accident will face strong criminal penalties. The penalties for DUI are lighter than these penalties, but they are still considerable. The specific penalties depend on age and the number of previous offenses, but they usually include:
- License suspension or revocation
- Fines and varying court costs
- Possible jail time
- DUI school and associated costs
- Increased car insurance rates.
A commercial driver caught driving under the influence will face much stiffer penalties. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) takes care of these penalties, which usually include disqualification of the driver from further employment as a commercial driver.
The penalties for a first-time DUI are relatively light, including license suspension for up to one year, a fine of $300 to $1,000, a $210 fee for license reinstatement, a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, 40 hours of community service, and possible imprisonment of up to one year. These penalties become stronger with subsequent offenses. Furthermore, a DUI offense will remain on an individual’s records permanently.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in an Accident
If you or a loved one is injured in an auto accident, you should first seek medical attention. You should also make sure you contact authorities. If your injuries were the result of neglect by another party, you should seek legal assistance. The personal injury lawyers at The Stoddard Firm have years of experience handling accident cases, and we even offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. Call us at 678-RESULTS.