Scholle Law Firm is a Duluth, Georgia based civil personal injury law firm. The two-plus decade old firm mainly handles motor vehicle accidents, but also serious cases related to work injuries, premises liability cases and other injury matters as well. In this ScholleLaw.com blog article, the Duluth Georgia accident lawyers at Scholle Law discuss civil DUI accident cases and criminal penalties for intoxicated driving convictions in Georgia. As always, if you should have any questions about this content or a personal injury related issue, please contact Scholle Law for a free case evaluation.
Driving Drunk, Intoxicated or High in Georgia
Very few things related to personal injury matters or car accidents are 100 percent preventable. With education and training we can do our best to make our work places (work place accidents) and our roads (car, truck, motorcycle and tractor trailer accidents) as safe as we can. However, we can never eliminate the possibility that most injury accidents will occur. Outside of distracted driving, the only other aspect of injury law or type of car accident cases that are preventable are drunk driving, drugged driving and DUI injury cases. Very simply put, if you do not get on our Georgia roads intoxicated, the potential for causing a DUI or drunk driving accident in Georgia is improbable.
There is no place in the United States that permits intoxicated driving. The legal system and our culture is very hard on people that cause drunk driving accidents and injuries. As they should be! Being convicted of an intoxicated driving offense in the U.S. costs a lot of money and can result in jail time and a lot of other very bad consequences. Even so, Georgia is one of the states with some of the harshest penalties for drunk drivers. For example:
For a first-time offender of Georgia’s intoxicated driving laws, a drunk driver could land jail time of up to one year. Next, there are potential fines. A person convicted in Georgia may have to pay between $300 and $1,000 in fines. Additionally, intoxicated driving convictions include potential license suspensions of up to a year. The minimum mandatory for community service accompanying an intoxicated driving conviction is 40 hours. Lastly, when a convicted driver gets their license reinstated, they have to pay a $210 license reinstatement fee. In conclusion, a first offense conviction for intoxicated driving in Georgia is no joke!
Unfortunately, many intoxicated drivers are habitual offenders. The law in Georgia was specifically written for that reason. A second offense occurring within five years of a first offense results in a mandatory 48 hours in jail. Two days in jail is serious, but there is a possibility that the conviction could ultimately result in a total sentence of 90 days to one year in jail. Also, the minimum fine for a second offense is $600 and it could be as high as $1,000. Second time offenders of Georgia’s intoxicated driving laws face a license suspension of three years.
Additionally, these second time offenders are required to perform 30 days of community service. If a convicted offender ever reinstates their license, they have to once again pay a $210 license reinstatement fee. Lastly, a second offense occurring within five years requires the convicted driver to be evaluated for substance abuse issues. If they are diagnosed with a need for treatment, they will be required to enter and complete a treatment program at their own expense.
It is difficult to imagine, but some offenders may even drive intoxicated again within 5 years of their second offense. Georgia law has a provision specifically for these third time offenders that re-offend the intoxicated driving laws in Georgia within 5 years of their second offense. A third offense occurring within five years of a second offense results in a mandatory 15 days in jail. Also, the minimum fine for a third offense is $1,000 and it can be as high as $5,000. Third time offenders of Georgia’s intoxicated driving laws face a license revocation for five years.
Additionally, these third time offenders are required to perform another 30 days of community service. Georgia law requires that third time offenders pay to have their name, photo and address published in a local newspaper. Also, third time offenders under this law are declared habitual violators. Their license plates for their vehicles are seized, sent to the court and forwarded on to the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety. Lastly, a third offense occurring within five years requires the convicted driver to be evaluated for substance abuse issues. If they are diagnosed with a need for treatment, they will be required to enter and complete a treatment program at their own expense.
Civil Penalties for Intoxicated Driving in Georgia
Anyone that has read the previous paragraphs about criminal penalties for Georgia intoxicated driving may have a hard time wondering how could it get even more serious? Easy! Georgia’s law are based on criminal and civil legal systems. The previous information was solely based on what may happen to an intoxicated driver that is convicted of an intoxicated driving offense. Again, criminal penalties involve jail, fines and the loss of driving privileges and this is not dependent on the driver being involved in an accident or wreck that involves injuries.
Intoxicated Driving Convictions Involving Injury Accidents
Many times drivers are charged after being pulled over for driving violations. Unfortunately, in all too many other situations, an accident may have been the event that lead to the charges. DUI injury accidents can involve a single vehicle or they could involve multiple cars or trucks. Our office has represented injury victims that have been passengers driven by an intoxicated driver and we have represented the people in the other vehicles that were hit by drunk drivers. Pedestrians can also be victims in these accidents and we represent them too.
What Are Civil Penalties For Intoxicated or Drunk Driving Accidents?
As is the case with all car accidents, victims of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers hire civil attorneys to help them gain compensation for their damages. When we talk about damages, we are talking about injuries and compensation (money) for things like medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering and other economic and non-economic damages. In severe cases these damages can be used to compensate for the need for future medical care, future lost earnings and compensation related to wrongful death claims and estate claims related to survival actions.
Experienced personal injury attorneys are tasked with not only proving that an intoxicated driver is liable (responsible) under civil law but also for proving that their negligence was the proximate cause of the damages sustained by the injured person(s). In most cases these types of cases are initiated as a claim against the at-fault or intoxicated driver’s insurance company. All drivers in Georgia are required to maintain liability insurance and it is for this very specific issue. Any driver is capable of causing an accident. Accordingly, a liability insurance policy must be in place to help pay for damages that result from accidents caused by driver negligence. Driver negligence includes operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
It is not uncommon for the victim of an accident caused by a drunk driver to ask about a civil attorney’s ability to make sure that the intoxicated driver receives jail time. While civil attorneys understand how dangerous intoxicated driving is, civil lawyers cannot hold drunk or intoxicated drivers criminally accountable. In most intoxicated driving cases, criminal cases belong to the state of Georgia. Solicitors, prosecutors and District Attorneys are the criminal lawyers that are responsible for pursuing criminal charges and convictions. We encourage accident victims to work with these attorneys if possible in order to make sure that justice is done.
Contact Experienced Duluth Georgia Accident Attorneys
While we cannot prosecute a criminal defendant, we can do everything on the civil side of things to hold negligent intoxicated drivers responsible. We want to make sure that intoxicated drivers and their insurance companies are held accountable and that our clients gain the most favorable case resolution provided for under the laws of Georgia. We achieve this by bringing solid injury claims that are put together by an experienced team of Duluth Georgia accident lawyers and professional staff. An insurance company receiving an injury claim from our office will have no doubt about the issues that we are fighting hard for.
Additionally, insurance companies know that the cases that we do not resolve through a negotiated settlement will be forthcoming in the form of a lawsuit. We are not afraid of going to court and our reputation with big insurance companies is exactly that! While most cases are able to be resolved through a pre-litigation settlement, some cases do require a lawsuit. Our law firm and Duluth Georgia accident lawyers have the resources and experience to litigate against insurance company lawyers defending the insurance policies of their insured drivers involved in intoxicated driving accidents.
We fight hard for our clients and fight hard to hold negligent drunk drivers accountable! To set up a meeting, call us today at (678) 921-3320 or contact us online.