Fatal DUI Crashes in Georgia
Speak with a trusted DUI lawyer in Georgia.
Fatal DUI Crashes in Georgia are devastating for all involved. Learn your options and begin to rebuild your life with the assistance of Philip Kim Law, P.C.
Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.
Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.
Published on February 01, 2023.
Driving Under the Influence
Drivers with a BAC or blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher or any amount of a controlled substance are considered to be under the influence.
But, even drivers with BAC lower than the legal limit can be charged with DUI if the arresting officers determine it’s not safe for them to operate a vehicle.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the negative effects of alcohol on the central nervous system increase as the levels rise in a person’s system. Interactions between substances in the body, such as certain medications or illegal drugs and alcohol, increase impairment and make driving riskier.
Poor muscle coordination, including vision, balance, and reaction time, is considered to be a common side effect of 0.08 percent BAC. In addition, impaired drivers detect danger with far more difficulty as their judgment and perception are also impaired.
While Georgia law already imposes severe penalties for convictions of driving under the influence, anyone who caused an accident while driving impaired faces additional criminal charges as well as the possibility of a civil lawsuit.
How Many Fatal Crashes Are Caused by Drunk Driving in Georgia?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data reveals that approximately one in three traffic deaths in the U.S. involves a drunk driver.
The NHTSA states that about 30% of all traffic accident fatalities in the United States involve drunk driving. In fact, from 2011-2020, about 10,500 people died every year in drunk-driving crashes across the U.S.
More than 3,500 people were killed from 2003 to 2012 in vehicle crashes involving a drunk driver in Georgia.
Georgia Traffic Fatalities
The Georgia State Patrol (GSP) is focused primarily on enforcing traffic laws and investigating traffic crashes throughout the state. In addition to patrol posts, Georgia State Patrol also contains seven specialized units, including the Nighthawks DUI Task Force. One of the main goals of this task force is to combat crashes, injuries, and fatalities caused by impaired driving and speeding.
Traffic fatalities can occur due to different reasons. For example, speeding often leads to crashes since the driver has less time to respond to the potential danger ahead. If an accident occurs due to speeding, significant injuries and death are more likely to be triggered because of the increased force. The Georgia super speeder law imposes additional fees and penalties for drivers who engage in speeding.
In addition to speeding, driving while distracted, not wearing a seat belt, breaking traffic laws, and driving while impaired are some of the most common unsafe driving behaviors that lead to fatal accidents.
Accidents with fatalities caused by impaired driving can involve homicide by vehicle and feticide by vehicle.
What Is a Vehicular Manslaughter?
Vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter is a serious charge in Georgia. It occurs when an individual unintentionally and unlawfully causes the death of another individual or a fetus while operating a motor vehicle.
First-degree vehicular homicide occurs when a driver causes someone else’s death while committing a reckless driving offense such as the following:
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Driving on a revoked license after being deemed a habitual violator
Committing a hit and run in Georgia.
Second-degree vehicular homicide doesn’t involve impaired driving. Still, it causes the death of another due to violating traffic laws.
Penalties for an Accident Involving a Death
When a DUI accident occurs, the consequences become substantially more severe than the standard Georgia DUI penalties, especially if anyone is seriously injured or killed. These penalties are typically imposed in addition to the standard fines, jail time, and community service already ordered for the DUI offense.
While second-degree vehicular manslaughter can be charged as a misdemeanor, first-degree homicide by vehicle is a felony. If the charges are misdemeanors, a trial court will usually increase a jail sentence if injuries or fatalities are involved.
Driver charged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter can spend up to one year in county jail per death and potentially pay a fine of up to $1,000.
A prison sentence can range from 3 to 15 years for feticide by a vehicle involving DUI or reckless driving. Vehicular homicide can carry the same penalties and are punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison per death. If more than one individual dies, the penalties can be stacked.
If the driver is a “habitual violator,” meaning they have been convicted more than thrice for a DUI within a five-year period, the sentence is generally 5 to 20 years in prison per death.
What Is the Punishment for Drunk Driving Accidents?
DUI accidents are harshly punished, and you can face 1 to 15 years in state prison if you are found guilty.
Causing a death by a vehicle in Georgia is a felony offense, even if that is the driver’s first offense DUI. Convicted drivers could face 1 to 15 years in prison for each charge.
DUI Hit-and-run can result in 1 to 5 years in prison.
How Can an Attorney Help With DUI Charge That Resulted in Someone’s Death?
If someone dies in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident that wasn’t their fault, their family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible driver. If you were that driver, and you were driving under the influence, you could be dealing with not just criminal but also civil consequences. These cases can be complex, and handling them without proper legal assistance may prove very difficult and tricky.
An experienced attorney may succeed in getting your charges reduced. For example, a reckless driving lawyer could help you reduce DUI charges to reckless driving. But, if your DUI offense included fatalities, reducing your charges can be difficult.
Vehicular manslaughter charges might be dropped only if there is a lack of sufficient evidence or factual innocence. For example, if there isn’t enough evidence to prove the accused driver was guilty of a DUI, that driver can’t be charged with first-degree vehicular manslaughter.
If you have more questions regarding fatal crashes involving impaired driving, contact an attorney at Philip Kim Law, P.C. today.