According to the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, each year there are about 300 traffic fatalities in Georgia and 10,000 traffic fatalities nationwide from alcohol-impaired or drunk drivers. In addition, according to the 2014 Georgia County Guide published by the University of Georgia, Douglasville and Douglas County average about 5 fatalities caused by drunk drivers per 100,000 population. That is well over the Georgia average of 3 fatalities caused by drunk drivers per 100,000 population. Drunk driving is certainly a problem in West Georgia.
In Georgia, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08% for drivers over 21. For drivers 21 or below, the limit is 0.02%. For commercial drivers (heavy trucks and tractor trailers) the limit is 0.02% BAC. At these levels and higher, the driver is deemed to be an impaired and dangerous driver. This is borne out by the severity of drunk driver related crashes and wrecks. Unfortunately, these accidents often lead to serious injuries, high medical bills and deaths.
There are certainly criminal penalties for drunk drivers. But Georgia law also allows you to punish a drunk driver in conjunction with recovering your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering in a civil law suit. In drunk driver cases in Douglasville and Douglas County, you can also recover punitive or exemplary damages. You can recover punitive damages if you prove by "clear and convincing evidence that the defendant´s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences." Georgia law allows these damages as a way to punish and deter drunk drivers. The damages can often be substantial, because Douglasville juries are fed up with drunk drivers!
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, it is advisable to hire an attorney. Preservation of key evidence is often critical, and steps must be taken to establish chain of custody of the alcohol testing the driver was subjected to. Call Kenneth B. Crawford for a free consultation today to see if your claim qualifies for punitive damages. Hopefully we can one day eradicate the scourge of drunk and impaired driving from Douglasville, Douglas County and West Georgia.