Recent Accident Illustrates the Challenge of Discouraging Drunk Driving
Drivers who drink and drive take a substantial risk that puts everyone else on Georgia’s roads in danger. The human toll in the form of permanent life-altering injuries and wrongful death claimed by drunk drivers in Georgia is both unacceptable and preventable.
Although the potential danger of a drunk driving accident should be a sufficient deterrent to discourage drunk driving, over 26,000 people were arrested for drunk driving in Georgia in the most recent year for which statistics are available. Over thirty percent of fatal accidents in Georgia are alcohol-related. Despite drunk driving laws with stricter penalties, it has been estimated that drunk drivers climb behind the wheel while intoxicated an average of eighty times before their first DUI arrest according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A recent Douglas County drunk driving accident provides a good example of the challenge in preventing a Georgia drunk driving accident. An Atlanta assistant principal was involved in an accident that caused injuries while allegedly intoxicated. Tanisha Rodgers Thomas, an assistant principal at Booker T. Washington High School, has been charged with eight offenses including DUI, leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run), driving without headlights, failing to obey a traffic signal and failing to maintain her lane. Rodgers allegedly crossed the centerline of Waterford Club Drive and collided with another vehicle before leaving the scene of the accident according to media reports. After fleeing the initial collision, Rodgers allegedly ran a red light and proceeded to collide with another vehicle. She then allegedly fled the scene of the second accident. Her vehicle finally departed the roadway, hit the curb and collided with a fire hydrant. A driver who was T-boned by Rodgers suffered shoulder injuries that may require surgery.
While drunk driving often leads to mistakes, errors in judgment and unsafe driving practices, few drunk driving accidents involve this many violations of basic vehicle safety. It is hard to imagine a sober driver engaging in unsafe driving of this scope. Any of these violations of Georgia traffic laws could easily cause serious car accidents in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. Anytime a driver fails to use headlights at night, runs a traffic signal and does not maintain one’s lane, it would be a surprise if a Georgia auto collision did not occur.
This hit and run accident also illustrates the difficulty in discouraging drunk driving. School district employees are required to report all arrests and convictions. A DUI conviction may well cost this assistant principal her job and limit her ability to obtain future employment as a teacher or school administrator. An alcohol-related accident can result in incarceration in county jail or state prison, substantial fines, damage to one’s reputation and loss of employment or career opportunities. Despite these significant consequences, this high school assistant principal has put her entire future in jeopardy.
In light of this recent accident, it is worth pointing out a change in first time DUI sentencing that has just been enacted in Nebraska. The state has concluded that suspending driver’s licenses has not been effective in discouraging drunk driving. The state will be using a new program where first time DUI offenders and repeat offenders apply for installation of an ignition interlock device. It is estimated that 50-75 percent of drivers convicted of DUI that have their license suspended continue to drive. This new approach in Nebraska is designed to make sure that drivers that are intoxicated cannot operate their vehicle until they sober up. While drivers are still limited to some degree in terms of where they may travel, the program permits drivers to go to work, take their kids to school, shop and carry out other necessary functions that drivers might be tempted to do anyway even if their license is suspended.
Although only time will tell if this approach is a viable alternative to the common practice of suspending the driver’s license of an intoxicated driver, this recent accident shows that even harsh, life-altering penalties do not seem to be preventing drunk driving accidents. If you or someone you love has been injured by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our Georgia drunken driving accident attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.