How Dangerous are Drunk Drivers in Georgia?
With so much attention on Georgia’s new “hands-free” laws, it may be easy to forget about other dangerous roadway activities, such as driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI). At The Dixon Firm, we want Georgia drivers to be aware of all possible risks so they can take precautions. In this week’s article, “How Dangerous are Drunk Drivers in Georgia?” we will take a look at some of the most sobering statistics about DUI and related auto accidents on Georgia roadways.
Nationwide Drunk Driving Statistics
Drunk drivers are a problem on roadways all across the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) all regularly compile data about drunk driving, related accidents, injuries, and deaths. Some of this data includes:
- In 2016, 10,497 people were killed in auto accidents involving a drunk driver.
- In 2016, 214 child deaths (ages 0-14) were caused by impaired driving.
- Every two minutes, someone is injured in an auto accident involving drunk driving.
- Every year, alcohol-related auto accidents cost over $44 billion.
- Drunk driving costs U.S. taxpayers more than $199 billion each year.
In terms of drunk drivers themselves:
- One-third of drivers arrested for DUI or convicted of DUI are repeat offenders.
- On average, a drunk driver has driven while intoxicated more than 80 times before their first arrest.
- In 2013, 28.7 million people admitted that they had driven while under the influence of alcohol.
- 50-75 percent of drunk drivers with a conviction continue to drive with a suspended license.
- Every day, more than 300,000 drunk drivers will hit U.S. roadways. Only around 3,200 will be arrested. In 2016, more than one million drivers were arrested for DUI related to alcohol or narcotics.
These nationwide statistics certainly paint a picture of a dangerous trend. Here in Georgia, the problem is tremendous and is a threat to anyone on Georgia roadways.
How Dangerous are Drunk Drivers in Georgia?
Auto accidents occur for many reasons, but drunk drivers are one of the leading causes of accidents resulting in injuries or fatalities. Georgia has an exceptionally high number of drunk drivers, and that number seems to be increasing. From 2006 until 2015, the number of drunk driving related auto accidents and fatalities had declined. In 2015, however, the number rose dramatically, and has been consistently high since.
Even with strict laws, enforcement initiatives, and punishment, thousands of people choose to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or drugs. Statistics from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety indicate:
- In 2016, there were 1,554 fatalities on Georgia roadways. This number accounts for an 8.5 percent increase over 2015.
- Of the 1,554 fatalities, 368 people died as a result of impaired driving. That number rose 2.7 percent over 2015.
- Fatalities among unrestrained individuals increased by 15.8 percent between 2015 and 2016, with 476 fatalities in 2016 alone.
- Of the total 1,554 fatalities, 266 were related to speeding.
- In total, 24 percent of auto accident fatalities in 2016 were related to alcohol-impaired driving.
Unfortunately, there are thousands of drunk driving incidents that are never reported, so these figures may be significantly higher. Many drunk drivers never get pulled over or arrested because of luck, or their ability to maintain some level of control while driving.
Georgia’s Drunk Driving Laws
The introduction to the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles says it best – “Drinking while driving can land you with a drunk driving charge―and that’s a best case scenario. The worst case is injuring or killing your passengers, other drivers, or yourself”.
Georgia takes drunk driving very seriously, and has strict laws in place. There are many misconceptions about drunk driving and what constitutes a DUI offense. Let’s set the record straight. In Georgia, DUI is defined as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of:
- 0.08 percent for drivers over 21 years old who are operating standard passenger vehicles.
- 0.04 percent for drivers over 21 who are operating a commercial vehicle.
- 0.02 percent for drivers under the age of 21.
The penalties for a DUI conviction include:
- Suspension or revocation of driver’s license.
- Fines and court costs, which vary depending on the charges and other factors.
- Possible jail time or probation.
- DUI school, community service, and possible rehabilitation.
- Increase in car insurance rates.
- Possible requirement of installing an ignition interlock device.
- A permanent DUI conviction on your criminal and driving records.
Anyone with more than one DUI conviction will face increased penalties for subsequent offenses. Adults over age 21 who get a third DUI conviction will have the added penalties of:
- Revoked license.
- Confiscated license plates.
- No less than 15 days in jail.
- Photo and information in local newspaper, at offenders own cost.
- Fees of up to $5,000.
- Permanent classification as a “Habitual Violator” (HV).
Georgia’s drunk driving laws are designed to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, many drivers do not comply with the laws or continue to disobey the laws after an arrest.
Get Help after a Drunk Driving Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident that was caused by a drunk driver, it is important that you get legal guidance right away. You or your loved one may be entitled to recover financial compensation from the person responsible for causing the accident. If so, you may be able to recover damages to cover medical expenses, lost wages, mental trauma, and property loss.
To find out more about your legal rights, and what options you may have, contact our Atlanta drunk driving attorneys today. Let us help you hold accountable those responsible for your injuries and get you the compensation you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 404-733-1166.