Marietta Accident Grim Reminder Drunk Driving a Major Problem in Georgia


November 13, 2010

A serious accident involving a Marietta woman who has been charged with DUI after causing serious injuries to the other driver in the collision serves as a sad reminder that alcohol is still a major cause of Georgia auto accidents. Both drivers were traveling southbound on S.R. 41 when Sheila Anne Hunter crossed into the other lane of Cobb Parkway and collided with a Ford Super Duty Truck causing both vehicles to leave the roadway and flip. Van Engle, the driver of the truck, was transported to Atlanta Medical Center and was purportedly in critical condition.

Hunter faces charges for DUI, failure to maintain her lane, and serious injury by vehicle. While DUI related accident rates have declined over the last 20 years, this tragic accident serves as a sad reminder that drunk driving accidents still lead to the serious injury or death of many victims throughout the state of Georgia. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been representing those seriously injured or killed by drunk drivers for over 25 years.

Georgia drunk driving (DUI) auto accidents are widespread and take an enormous and completely avoidable human and financial toll on their victims. Drivers under the influence of alcohol account for almost 12,000 motor vehicle fatalities per year nationally, which amounts to 32% of all auto accident fatalities. Another 248,000 Americans are injured each year in DUI related auto accidents which means a person is hurt in a drunk driving accident every two minutes and killed every 45 minutes. An accident involving a DUI driver in Georgia is complex and involves both potential criminal and civil liability for the at-fault driver. Drunk drivers are also responsible for enormous financial costs to the public, estimated at $114.3 billion per year. Many of us have lost a family member or friend to a tragic car accident involving a drunk driver, and understand that such accidents are all the more disheartening because they are completely avoidable.

Georgia law provides criminal liability for operating a motor vehicle when a driver's normal faculties are impaired. Anyone who drives in Georgia when his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds .08 is presumed to have impaired driving ability. There is no minimum threshold for operating a vehicle when the substance causing impairment is a drug whether illegal narcotic, over the counter medication or prescription drug. A driver who is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol when involved in a Georgia auto accident engages in reckless behavior that can be the basis for punitive damages in addition to the compensation available for injuries suffered in other types of accidents. Punitive damages are specifically intended to punish a defendant for particularly egregious conduct and to discourage such conduct in the future.

Drivers who are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not only more likely to cause a car wreck but tend to be involved in more serious accidents. DUI auto accidents often involve excessive speed by the impaired driver, and the increased speed results in more significant injuries including traumatic brain injuries (TBI), spinal cord injuries, severe internal organ damage, paralysis, and death. Because impaired drivers often receive a DUI conviction, our attorneys will use the information and evidence from the criminal case to establish a basis for punitive damages in a lawsuit to recover compensation for the injuries and damage caused by a drunk driver. Ironically, most drivers who are involved in DUI auto accidents are repeat offenders with prior convictions for DUI.

Many Georgia drivers assume that they can drive safely after having a few drinks. This assumption has no basis in fact as alcohol slows reaction time and affects depth perception, coordination, and judgment. The risk of a driver being killed in a crash with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 is at least 11 times that of drivers without alcohol in their system. A BAC of .10% increases the risk to 29 times higher. In excess of 20% of alcohol-related auto accident fatalities involve BAC levels which exceed .10%. Some studies conclude that a blood alcohol level as low as .02 affects one's ability to drive and increases the likelihood of an accident.

A Georgia DUI related auto accident requires that key evidence regarding the at-fault driver's intoxication or impairment by drugs be preserved. Critical evidence can include the following:

  • Witnesses at the Scene
  • 911 Tapes
  • Police Reports
  • Criminal DUI Court Records
  • Breathalyzer and Field Sobriety Test Results
  • Law Enforcement Squad Car Video

This type of evidence can be compelling and understandably inspire a sense of outrage in members of a jury. Insurance companies are understandably reluctant to litigate auto accident cases involving drunk drivers and may be inclined to reach a favorable settlement, particularly because they fear the prospect of massive punitive damage awards for their insured's reckless conduct.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a Georgia auto accident by a drunk driver, Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. The experienced Georgia DUI accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, have been representing victims injured in auto accidents in Atlanta and throughout Georgia for over 25 years. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.