| Read Time: 4 minutes | Car Accident

Under Georgia law, a motorist cannot have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher when in possession of a motor vehicle. If a driver is under 21, then Georgia’s zero-tolerance laws apply. Anyone with a BAC over the allowable limit is considered intoxicated and can be prosecuted for DUI.
As the statistics below show, drunk driving is a serious problem in Georgia. Thousands of people are injured or killed every year, suffering needless pain and financial losses because of the accident. If you have been injured, or if a loved one was killed in an accident, please contact our law firm today. An attorney can begin the fight for fair compensation for your losses.

3,699 Georgians Were Killed in Drunk Driving Accidents from 2003-2012

This statistic comes from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which further broke down the rate of death per 100,000 people, which was 3.0. This number was slightly below the average for the nation, which was 3.3. Still, 370 people are killed every year needlessly from drunk driving accidents.

Four Times as Many Men are Killed as Women in Drunk Driving Accidents

The rate of death per 100,000 people was as follows in Georgia:

  • Men: 4.9
  • Women: 1.2

There are probably many reasons for this discrepancy. For example, many those killed were drunk drivers themselves, and men might be more at risk to drive while intoxicated. Men could also engage in riskier maneuvers while driving, which further increases the odds of getting into a fatal accident.

1.4% of Adults in Georgia Admit to Driving after Drinking Too Much

Unfortunately, many people know they should not be driving after drinking but go ahead and do so anyway. The national average was 1.9%. Of course, many motorists are instead in denial that they drive after drinking too much and would never admit that fact, so the percentage who drink and drive is really much hire.

About a Quarter of Fatalities involve Drunk Drivers

There are many causes of fatal car accidents. Speeding and distracted driving are two of them. But nothing is as deadly as drunk driving. According to statistic gathered by the Alcohol Alert website, around 25% of all fatalities in Georgia involved people with BAC of 0.08 or higher.
Fortunately, the percentage seems to be declining, which is good news. In the mid-1990s, for example, roughly 40% of fatalities involved drunk drivers, so considerable progress is being made at reducing drunk driving fatalities.

You Can Be Charged with DUI Regardless of Your BAC

Probably the most common way to get charged with DUI is to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher based on a chemical test, typically a breathalyzer. However, Georgia law allows the state to prosecute someone for DUI regardless of their BAC.
As O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 states, a person cannot be in control of a moving vehicle if they are under the influence of alcohol to such an extent that “it is less safe” for them to be driving. This basically means that any amount of alcohol could support a DUI charge if it has impaired a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.

At 0.02 BAC, People Begin to Experience Negative Effects from Alcohol

Many people are convinced that they can “hold their liquor” and would dispute that they feel any negative impairment from drinking. But as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes, people begin to experience some loss of judgment even at 0.02 BAC. They can also suffer a decline in their ability to multitask, such as drive and change the radio station. Their visual function might decline also.
For a person of average weight, two alcoholic beverages might be enough to put them at 0.02, which means they already will not be driving as safely as they otherwise would if completely sober.

Over 30,000 People Have Been Saved by Minimum Age Drinking Laws

This number comes from NHTSA, which has calculated that 31,959 were saved from 1975 to 2017. In the following years, many more have likely been saved as well. Remember this number the next time a teen complains they can’t buy alcohol.

Does The Fact That The Driver Was Drunk Matter

Yes, it matters a great deal. The law teaches us, “for every wrong, there is a remedy.” A victim of a car wreck is entitled to be made whole under the law. This means the law tries to return the victim to as near to the state they were prior to the wreck using an award of money. So, a typical car wreck victim will receive money for the damage to their car, the medical expenses they suffered, the lost wages and other similar damages.

Punitive Damages Under The Law

But there is another kind of damages, “Punitive Damages”, not intended to make the victim whole, but rather to punish the person who caused the harm in certain, egregious instances. These damages are only awarded if the conduct is proven to be “willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, or [my favorite] that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.” See O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1(b). That is a mouthful. Under Georgia law, if the driver who caused the wreck, “acted or failed to act while under the influence of alcohol or drugs… there shall be no limitation regarding the amount which may be awarded as punitive damages.” See O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1(f).

How much money is awarded for punitive damages?

You may ask, how much money is awarded for punitive damages? How much more would a person get if injured due to the actions of a drunk driver? The difficult answer there is: it depends on the circumstances. But it is important to realize you are likely entitled to more damages and the insurance company representing the responsible driver doesn’t want you to know that. Countless cases get settled for a fraction of their full value because victims don’t contact competent counsel. Medical bills can be left unpaid, rehabilitation that could be paid for is unavailable, and the drunk driver walks away, often unpunished and without the full punishment prescribed by law. It is vital for victims of drunk or drug DUI drivers to contact an attorney before speaking to any insurance representatives or accepting a settlement.

Were You Injured in a Drunk Driving Collision?

Those who drink and drive should be fully prosecuted under the law. But drunk driving is also a civil wrong. Anyone who has suffered pain or financial losses due to a drunk driving accident should meet with an attorney today.
MG Law has brought many lawsuits on behalf of drunk driving victims. Let us analyze how much your claim might be worth and try to negotiate a favorable settlement. You can schedule a free consultation if you call.

Author Photo

Michael Geoffroy’s law practice focuses on auto collisions, premises liability, wrongful death, and catastrophic injury. He stands up for the cause of justice throughout Georgia and on behalf of his clients every day. He is a leader in both the courtroom and the community, having been recognized numerous times for his involvement in each.