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Georgia Frequently Asked Questions.png

Drunk Driving Collisions FAQ

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1)  What BAC qualifies for a DUI in Georgia?

For the average adult driver of passenger vehicles on the roadway, a BAC of .08 or over will qualify as a DUI.

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2)  At what BAC can a minor be charged for a DUI?

Drivers who are under the age of twenty-one can be charged with a DUI for simply having a BAC level of 0.02.

 

Minor drivers should not be consuming alcohol, so there is no reason a minor driver should ever have a positive BAC level.

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3)  When can a commercial driver be charged for a DUI?

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles can be charged for a DUI with a BAC level of .04 or higher.

 

Commercial motor vehicles require extra care and training to drive because they are so large, heavy, and potentially destructive.  So, special rules apply to commercial drivers.

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4)  Who can be held responsible for a drunk driving accident?

If you or loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle collision that was caused by a drunk driver, you may have one or several avenues for compensation for your injuries. 

 

The driver of the vehicle is responsible for becoming intoxicated and choosing to drive.  Any insurance they have should cover your injuries.  In addition, any insurance of the owner of the vehicle (if different from the driver) as well as resident relative should provide coverage.

 

If the intoxicated driver was sold, furnished, or served alcohol by a bar, restaurant, or social host, then they may be held responsible under Georgia’s Dram Shop statute.

 

Next, if there is insufficient insurance to cover your injuries, you may be able to seek compensation from all policies that provide you uninsured and/or underinsured motorist coverage.

 

Finally, you may be eligible for some compensation under the Crime Victim Compensation Fund.

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5)  Am I eligible for assistance from the Crime Victim Compensation Program?

The general requirements to be eligible for assistance under the Crime Victim Compensation Program are:

 

  • Victim suffered death or serious injuries;

  • Victim did not cause or contribute to the accident;

  • Police were notified;

  • Victim has exhausted other avenues for compensation (i.e. auto insurance, health insurance, etc.); and

  • Application is submitted within one (1) year of the accident.

 

The compensation available through his program is not substantial, but anything helps, including:

 

  • </= $15,000 for Medical Expenses

  • </= $6,000 for Funeral Expenses

  • </= $3,000 for Counseling Treatment Expenses

  • </= $10,000 for Economic Support

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6)  Can I recover punitive damages even if the driver is not convicted of a DUI?

Punitive damages are available when an intoxicated and/or impaired driver causes a collision, even if the driver is not convicted.  That’s because the burden of proof in civil cases is lower than criminal cases.

 

So, just because the driver hires a criminal defense attorney to avoid a DUI conviction does not mean that they cannot be held accountable in your case.

 

If your only claim is for uninsured or underinsured insurance coverage, then punitive damages are not available.

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7)  What factors can contribute to a DUI accident?

Some factors that can contribute to an unsafe intoxicated driver on the roadway (other than being intoxicated) include:

 

  • Alcohol combined with a medical condition;

  • Alcohol combined with a prescription drug;

  • Alochol combined with narcotics or other illegal drugs;

  • Alcohol combined with sleep deprivation;

  • Alcohol combined with the driver’s low tolerance for alcohol;

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8)  Can I sue the bar or restaurant that served the alcohol?

The bar or restaurant can be held responsible for your injuries if it can be shown that they knowingly sold, furnished, or served alcohol to someone who is noticeably intoxicated and knowing that the person would soon be driving a motor vehicle.

 

Alternatively, if the DUI driver was a minor (not of drinking age) the bar or restaurant can be held responsible for willfully and knowingly selling, furnishing, or serving them alcohol while know that they will soon be driving a vehicle.

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9)  Can a bar or restaurant be held responsible under general negligence theories?

Georgia’s Dram Shop laws insulate bar and restaurants from being held responsible under general negligence theories.

 

Instead, the injured person must show that the furnisher of alcohol knowingly (or should have known) served alcohol to someone they also knew (or should have known) would be driving soon.  It’s a higher and tougher standard.

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10)  Is it legal to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person?

In Georgia, it is legal to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person. 

 

And, if that intoxicated person then injures themselves or someone else, the law specifically excludes the furnisher of alcohol from legal liability.

 

However, the person serving the alcohol may be held responsible for any wrecks and injuries to the extent they knew that the driver would be driving, yet continued to serve them alcohol.

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11)  Does a bar or restaurant have a duty to prevent an intoxicated person from driving?

A bar or restaurant has no legal duty to prevent an intoxicated person from driving.  They only have a duty not to knowingly serve an intoxicated person alcohol if they also know that he will be driving soon.

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12)  What if the drunk driver used a fake ID when he was served alcohol?

A fake ID does not automatically give the person or establishment who furnished the driver alcohol immunity from liability. 

 

Instead, it creates rebuttable proof that the person or establishment did not knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully serve alcohol to a minor child.

 

This proof can be rebutted with evidence that they actual knew or should have known that the ID was fake and the driver was really a minor child.

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13)  Can I sue a homeowner if the driver got drunk at a house party?

You may be able to sue the homeowner as well if they were the ones to serve the driver alcohol.

 

Georgia’s dramshop law allows you to sue any “person” who sells, furnishes, or serves alcohol.  So, this is not limited to bars and restaurants.  However, the homeowner is not responsible if they were not the one’s furnishing the alcohol.

 

Additionally, the homeowner is cannot be held responsible if they were no present when the driver became intoxicated at their home and the driver did not have permission to get drunk at their home.

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14)  Can a homeowner be responsible if the driver brought his own alcohol to a house party?

A homeowner is not responsible simply for hosting a party.  Instead, Georgia’ Dram Shop statutes specifically requires that they sell, furnish, or serve alcohol to the driver.

 

If the driver brought his own alcohol to a house party, or if the driver was furnished alcohol by another guest at the party, then the homeowner is not responsible.

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15)  Does Georgia’s Dram Shop law apply to package stores that sell alcohol to minors?

Package stores can be held liable under Georgia’s Dram Shop law when they knowingly, willfully, and unlawfully furnish alcohol people who are not the lawful drinking age.

 

The package store is not required to know when or how much alcohol the purchaser will consume before getting behind the wheel.  Nor does liability require the alcohol to be consumed on the premises of the package store.

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16)  Can a doctor be sued for furnishing prescription narcotic drugs to a patient who then causes a collision?

Generally, a physician cannot be sued for doing their job, and Georgia courts have held they owe no duty to the public at large to prevent the collision by not giving their patient prescription drugs.

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17)  What are statutes and regulations that may apply to a drunk driving collision?

Some statutes that may be relevant to a drunk driving collision case include:

 

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-5-55 (Implied Consent);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-5-57.1 (Revocation of License for Minors);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67 (Temporary Licenses After DUI Charge);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.1 (Implied Consent to Drug/Alcohol Tests);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.2 (Terms & Conditions for Suspension/Return of License);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-5-75 (Convictions of Possession; Revocation of License);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 (Driving Impaired Prohibited; Punishments);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391.1 (Nolo Contendre Plea by DUI Driver);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391.2 (Seizure of Vehicle of Habitual Offender);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391.3 (School Bus Driver DUI Punishment);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-392 (Admissibility of Alcohol Tests);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-393 (Homicide by Vehicle);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-393.1 (Feticide by Vehicle);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-394 (Serious Injury by Vehicle); and

  • O.C.G.A. § 51-1-40 (Dram Shop Statute).

 

In addition, any Federal Motor Carrier Regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers will apply as well.

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