Thanks to a long-time public awareness campaign, most people know that driving under the influence is a crime; in fact it’s a moral breach to put other lives at risk for one’s recklessness behind a wheel. For 35 years, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other groups have worked tirelessly changing laws and raising awareness. Still, according to government statistics, one out of three traffic deaths continues to involve a drunk driver. And, the Center for Disease Control reports that 3,699 people were killed in Georgia in crashes involving a drunk driver between 2003 and 2012.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, chances are your injuries are severe. Call John Foy & Associates at 404-400-4000. We’re an Atlanta personal injury law firm with more than 20 years of experience. We’re passionate about serving people who have been injured by another’s negligence and there’s nothing more negligent thank driving under the influence.
What is considered drunk driving in Georgia?
The illegal limit in Georgia is .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). The University of Arizona tells its students that 2 to 4 drinks in one hour will put most people at .08 BAC. Your BAC, however, varies based on weight, gender, the strength of the drink and the time of day you’ve been drinking. As a driver, you should know your BAC limit. There are simple online BAC calculators available. Anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 is not allowed to have any alcohol before driving. Georgia has a zero tolerance for any driver younger than 21 to have any alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
What should I do if a loved one or I have been injured by a drunk driver?
In any accident, it’s important to call the police and get a formal report of the accident. But this is especially crucial if you suspect a driver was drunk or otherwise impaired. Tell the officer that you suspect the other driver was drinking or impaired. Police are trained to identify those situations. If it does turn out to be a DUI situation, you have a right to recover significantly from the person being that irresponsible.
Smart phones are invaluable in this circumstance. “You can capture some really, really good evidence on your smart phone,’’ says John Foy. Film or audiotape your conversation with the other driver; a DUI driver is often obviously impaired. Take down as much information as you can about the accident, including the names and numbers of witnesses. Gather as much information as you can.
See if the driver is trying to get rid of bottles or cans. If the driver starts to use eye drops, he or she could be trying to cover up bloodshot eyes from marijuana or alcohol use.
And, call an ambulance if you, a passenger or the other driver needs medical treatment.
Call one of our Drunk Driving Attorneys at John Foy & Associates. We’ll work to get you compensated for your losses. Our legal team will investigate to see if the driver has previous convictions. The CDC reports drivers arrested while under the influence are six times more likely to have a prior DUI conviction than drivers with no alcohol in their system. “There’s a significant chance that they had a prior DUI or a prior accident with the DUI. A lot of people are habitual repeat offenders,” says John Foy.
What am I entitled to if I have been injured in a drunk driving accident?
In any personal injury case, you are entitled to three forms of compensation: costs for any reasonable medical care, including future care; payment for work lost; and pain and suffering. But in drunk driving cases, you are additionally entitled to punitive damages. These damages go beyond cost; they are meant to punish the wrongdoer and awards for DUI cases can be quite significant. “Juries have no sympathy for drunk drivers,” says our firm founder, John Foy. “There is little acceptance of it now.”
What if a loved one or I knowingly got into the car with a drunk driver? Am I still able to file a suit?
The drunk driver is still at fault. Each case is a little different. You still have a right to bring a claim but it may be looked at differently. Call our firm at 404-400-4000 and get a free consultation. We’ll walk you through the possibilities. And your call will be completely confidential.
John Foy & Associates has seen the gamut of drunk driving cases over the years. For example, if your child knowingly got into a car with a drunk teen driver, the provider of the alcohol can possible be held accountable. “If you served a minor you have issues simply for serving a minor. That’s illegal,” says John Foy.
Is being high on marijuana considered the same as drunk driving?
Yes, being high on any drug is considered the same as drunk driving. “Under Georgia law, the terminology is driving while under the influence or driving while intoxicated and so that applies equally to any type of drug or alcohol,” says John Foy. Any drug that makes you a less safe driver would qualify as a DUI case.
Do I still have a suit if the other driver was altered due to prescription medications?
“Absolutely,” says John Foy, being impaired by a legal drug violates the driving laws. Prescription drugs are required by law to have warning labels about any possible impairment and drivers have a responsibility to honor other drivers. If you don’t smell alcohol or marijuana, but you suspect there’s something wrong with the other driver, report your concerns to the officer. Advises John Foy: “Say to the officer, ‘I’m not sure but this person seems like he’s under the influence.’ ”
How is a drunk driving accident different from a regular car accident?
“DUI accidents tend to be more extreme with more severe injuries and possibly death,” says John Foy. Drunk drivers tend to drive at high speeds and very recklessly. Government statistics estimate that 68 percent of drunk drivers killed in an auto accident were not wearing a seatbelt. Drunk drivers have trouble focusing; their muscle coordination is impaired. Their reaction time is slowed down and they are mentally confused.
Who is responsible for payment in a drunk driving accident? Can a party host or business owner be held responsible for a drunk driving accident?
The DUI driver is responsible for payment. But there are situations in which a party host or business owner is also found responsible. The Georgia “Dram Shop Law” holds responsible any business owner who knowingly sells alcohol to an inebriated customer or guest. “Bartenders and restaurant owners have a higher duty because they’re licensed distributors of alcohol,’’ says John Foy. Bartenders are trained to refuse to serve someone who has had too much to drink. Restaurant servers have a duty to monitor the number of drinks a customer has and that’s easy to do because the server keeps a tab of how much the customer has ordered.
A party host may also be responsible, especially if he or she knowingly provided alcohol to anyone under 21. If you knowingly served a minor, you can potentially be liable.
Is there a time limit for me to file a case if I have been injured in a drunk driving accident?
The time limit for filing a personal injury case is generally two years, but there are exceptions for shorter time periods. It’s important to act quickly and hire a personal injury attorney before too much time passes. A DUI case will often end up in the criminal court system and have a civil component as well.
With all the DUI laws, are there still a lot of accidents caused by drunk drivers?
DUI cases have dropped 23% in the last 10 years, according to Department of Transportation records. Unfortunately, drunk driving continues to be a problem on our roads. Every Monday morning, our phone lines at John Foy & Associates are busy with callers who have been injured over the weekend by drunk drivers. While most of us follow the rules of driving diligently, drunk and high drivers do not.
Dosomething.org, a public service organization aimed at young people, reports that a drunk driver will drive under the influence 80 times before an arrest. MADD reports that 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers with revoked licenses continue to drive.
How can your law firm help me?
“DUI cases are different,” says John Foy. DUI driving is criminally negligent and many drivers are habitual offenders. Driving is a privilege and requires responsible behavior. After 20 years of representing people who have been injured by drunk drivers, we, more than most, understand that cars and trucks are heavy, dangerous vehicles than can devastate or kill the innocent. You didn’t deserve this accident. Call our firm at 404-400-4000 for a free consultation. Someone will answer the phone 24 hours a day, every day of the year.