Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
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 attorney you can trust on your side. The Stoddard Firm has years of experience with injury accidents, 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 Stoddard Firm has years of experience handling accident injuries, and we even offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. Call us at 678-RESULTS.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I have to go to court?
Not necessarily. Many wrongful death and personal injury cases are settled before they go to court. However, it is our experience that the most successful cases are built as if they are going to court. Our firm prepares every case to go all the way to trial, even if it is ultimately resolved before the trial starts.
Why is an attorney important in a personal injury case?
Personal injury law can be complex, and filing a successful claim can require a great deal of time, effort and experience. A lawsuit often involves several other parties, including defendants, insurance companies and other attorneys. There are also many procedural rules that must be followed. Having experienced, skilled legal representation maximizes your chances of success.
How do I pick the right attorney?
You’ll want to look for several qualities when choosing who will represent you. Your attorney should meet with you instead of sending an investigator, and he/she should be available throughout the process instead of having you consistently talk to a legal assistant. Your attorney should have a low number of cases so he/she can devote significant time to you and your case. Your attorney should have experience handling cases with facts similar to yours, and your attorney should have a proven track record with similar claims. Your attorney should also be able to devote significant money to your case so that he/she can hire experts, travel the country finding witnesses, and depose whomever is necessary to achieve justice. It’s also important to make sure your attorney is the right fit on a personal level, which is why you should take advantage of a free consultation.
How much time do I have to file a lawsuit?
There is a time limit on how long a person has after an injury to begin a lawsuit. This window is called a statute of limitations. For most personal injury cases in Georgia, the statute of limitations is two years from the time the injury was suffered. However, there are exceptions and subtleties that might change the amount of time you are afforded. Sometimes the period can be as short as 6 months, and other times it can be much longer than two years. Determining the statute of limitations requires a detailed analysis of the facts of your case.
What do I need to bring with me to the consultation?
For your free consultation, bring all relevant documents that you’ve collected regarding your case. If there are police reports, bills or correspondence from insurance companies, you’ll want to bring those items to the consultation so an attorney can learn as much about your case as possible.