Road deaths are rising nationwide and impaired driving in Georgia remains a major cause of deaths.

More than 1,500 people lost their lives in Georgia in 2016. Across the United States, 40,200 people were killed in accidents making 2016 the deadliest year on the nation’s roads since 2007, noted the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

National Safety Council President Deborah Hersman said the three biggest killers on the roads of Georgia and elsewhere are speed, alcohol, and distraction. That hasn’t changed for decades.

In any given year, about 3,700 people die in alcohol-related accidents in Georgia. Nationally, about one in three accidents is caused by alcohol or drugs.

Impaired Driving in Georgia

Impaired Driving in Georgia may carry a heavy sentence

Although the number of accidents caused by drunk drivers fell over the last two decades, the figure leveled out in recent years. We still see numerous accidents caused by drunk drivers.

Georgia like other states has made sentences for drunk driving stiffer in recent years. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia, even a first DUI offense can land a driver in jail.

Offenders also face a fine of $300 to $1,000, a license suspension of up to a year, 40 hours of community service and the prospect of paying $210 to reinstate their license over impaired driving.

Drivers who commit a second offense within five years of the first DUI, face a mandatory term of 48 hours in jail. However, they may spend 90 days to a year behind bars.

Second offense drivers face a license suspension of three years and a minimum of 30 days community service. The state may see second offense drivers as having a substance abuse or alcohol problem.

They also face a mandatory clinical evaluation and possibly the completion of a substance abuse as well as a treatment program at the offender’s expense.

Drivers who are convicted of a third DUI offense within five years of a second offense are branded as habitual violators. The license plate of the driver’s vehicle will be seized and sent to the court and forwarded to the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety.

The offender will face a minimum mandatory term of 15 days jail time, a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 and a license revocation for five years. The violator will serve at least 30 days community service and his or her name, photo, and address will be published in a local newspaper at violator’s expense.

A third-time violator will face a mandatory clinical evaluation and may be ordered to complete a substance abuse program.

Georgia also has an open container law for drivers found with opened alcohol in their vehicle. The law defines an “open alcoholic beverage container” as an opened bottle or one with a broken seal, or partially removed contents.

The law prevents anyone from drinking alcohol or possessing any open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of a car or a truck on the roadway or shoulder of any public highway.

Only a vehicle occupant who drinks an alcoholic beverage or possesses an open alcoholic beverage container will be charged with the open container violation. However, a driver who is alone in a car will be deemed to be in possession of any open alcoholic beverage container. Violators are subject to a fine up to $200. The provision does not apply to passengers.

If you have been involved in an accident involving a drunk driver in Georgia, please call our Newnan personal injury lawyers at (404) 913-1529.