Drunk Driving FAQs

Drunk driving continues to be a serious problem in Atlanta, across Georgia, and throughout the U.S. more than a generation after the reform of drunk driving laws. Drunk driving accidents are the cause of nearly one third of all car accident deaths in our country each year.

The lawyers of Millar & Mixon, LLC help victims harmed by drunk drivers obtain compensation for their losses. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a crash caused by another driver who had been drinking or using drugs, we may be able to help you.

Because there may be many factors affecting a drunk driving accident claim, we have compiled some answers to frequently asked questions. If we can help you further, a Millar & Mixon, LLC drunk driving accident attorney would be happy to discuss your concerns with you in a free initial consultation.

DUI

My daughter’s car was hit by a driver whose blood-alcohol level was above .08 percent at the time of the crash. Doesn’t that automatically mean he is guilty and liable for damage to the car and my daughter’s injuries?

A blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent is the level at which a driver is considered too impaired to drive a car legally in Georgia. But being charged with DUI is not the same as being convicted and holding an allegedly drunken driver liable for injuries and property damage is a separate case altogether.

Recording a BAC of .08 or more is evidence of intoxication and driving while intoxicated is against the law. Regardless of whether prosecutors obtain a guilty verdict in a criminal trial or a plea for driving under the influence (DUI), in a civil case, your daughter would have to show that the driver’s negligence caused her injuries and losses.

A personal injury case against an allegedly drunk driver would use the police report showing results of the driver’s Breathalyzer or blood test, a DUI charge, and potentially a DUI conviction as evidence. However, the evidence would also have to show that the other drivers’ negligence (driving while impaired) caused the crash and the crash was the direct cause of your daughter’s injuries.

It is also important to understand that, while a DUI conviction is certainly helpful, a personal injury claim in a drunk driving case can succeed without a criminal charge or conviction.

You will need the assistance of an experienced drunk driving accident personal injury lawyer to proceed with a claim and obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and property damage losses caused by the wreck. Millar & Mixon, LLC can investigate your daughter’s case, gather the evidence required and negotiate with insurance companies or take the claim to court on your behalf, if necessary.

I went to a party with some friends. Our driver drank a lot of wine at the party and on the way back, he ran into a tree, causing me to break several bones. Can I sue the driver?

Yes. We often think of the “other” driver as being the one at fault in a drunk driving case, but passengers of impaired drivers who are injured because of the driver’s negligence may also seek compensation for their losses.

You may be able to file a claim against the driver and other parties as well, including the host of the party you attended.

Georgia’s dram shop act, which holds bar, restaurant, and store owners responsible for harm done by intoxicated or underage patrons they knowingly sell or serve alcohol to, also includes a similar social host liability. If the driver of the car you were in was younger than the legal drinking age, which is 21, or was already intoxicated when the host of the party served him or her alcohol, you may be able to pursue a third-party claim against the host.

However, Georgia law is governed by a modified comparative fault statute. Under this law, if a drunk driving accident victim is responsible to some degree for their injury, a court will determine the percentage of the person’s fault and reduce the amount of any compensation proportionally. If it’s somehow determined that a person’s fault exceeds that of the driver, or the person could have avoided the consequences caused by the drunk driver’s negligence, no compensation will be awarded.

Your consumption of alcohol followed by getting into a car with someone who you knew was at the same party may have a detrimental effect on your claim. You should discuss your case with an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer who pursues drunk driving accident claims. At Millar & Mixon, LLC, we will provide you an initial legal consultation about your case at no charge.

We were in a car accident with a drunk driver who fled after the collision. We traced the car’s ownership to a person who had loaned his car to the driver who hit us. Neither the driver nor the car owner had any insurance. Can we recover compensation?

This is a complicated situation and one that, unfortunately, is common in Georgia. You need to have your case thoroughly investigated to see if you are able to bring lawsuits against both the driver and the owner of the car.

First, you should file a claim with your own insurance company for the full extent of your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, if you have it. An UM/UIM policy entitles you to compensation for injuries when the at-fault party either has no liability insurance (UM) or has insurance that does not cover the full extent of your damages (UIM). It’s estimated that 11.7 percent of Georgia motorists were uninsured as of 2012.

Though your insurance company may have been friendly when it accepted your premiums, it may not be so friendly when you file an accident claim. Dealing with insurers who act in bad faith is among the services a personal injury lawyer can provide you.

Second, an investigation into the activities of the driver who hit you may be able to demonstrate that he or she was drinking before the accident and that his/her impairment was the cause of the crash and your injuries. Evidence may be found in restaurant or bar receipts showing alcohol purchases, interviews with witnesses, cell phone data pinpointing the driver’s whereabouts at certain times, and even social media posts in which the drunk driver implicates him/herself.

If the evidence indeed shows that the driver was drunk and ran from the crash scene, you could make a case for punitive damages. This is additional compensation that is awarded to punish someone who acted with willful misconduct, wantonness, and lack of care.

Third, the owner of the car may have a responsibility to you if he loaned the vehicle to a driver who was intoxicated at the time or, perhaps, had a history of drunk driving.

An experienced drunk driving claim attorney at Millar & Mixon, LLC can investigate your case, sort out the responsibilities of the parties involved, and work to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries and other losses.

My wife and I were injured in an accident with a driver who wasn’t drunk. Instead of alcohol, he had consumed prescription medicine before he drove. Can we still sue him for our losses?

Probably. Georgia’s “drunk driving” law applies to “drugged driving,” as well. It is actually a law against driving under the influence, whether of alcohol or illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs.

Although most impaired driving accident cases involve a driver who was intoxicated by beer, wine, or liquor at the time of the accident, liability can be established in Georgia against a driver who was impaired by any substance. This includes:

  • Illegal drugs (controlled substances), such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine (“meth”), ecstasy (MDMA), or LSD.
  • Prescription drugs, like pain medications or antihistamines, which can cause drowsiness.
  • Over-the-counter drugs, such as cough medicine or allergy medicines, which can also cause drowsiness.
  • Any glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor, which when sniffed or “huffed” causes a euphoric high.

Georgia’s law is very strict. It makes it illegal to drive with “any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance” in the driver’s blood or urine. The law also refers to use of the above substances as illegal “to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive.” Even a herbal supplement that adversely impacts a driver’s ability to drive safely could be grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

If you believe the driver who caused your accident and injuries was impaired by any form of drug, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. It may be necessary to seek a court order to have the driver’s blood or urine tested for the level of drugs in their system without too much of a delay.

What should I do if I have been in an auto accident caused by a drunk or drugged driver?

If you have not been too badly injured, there are several steps you can take to protect your rights to compensation after a drunk driving accident. If you have been injured you should seek emergency medical care and, if possible, have a companion assist you in protecting your rights.

You or a companion should collect as much information as possible from the crash scene. If you have a camera or camera phone, take photos of the cars and their damage, and other shots of the accident scene, debris, or conditions that help to show what happened.

Get the other driver’s name, address, and phone number, as well as license plate number, name of insurance company, and policy number. Be ready to provide this information about yourself, as well. Get the names and contact information for any witnesses.

Report the accident to police and cooperate with the police when they arrive. Answer questions honestly. Do not make charges against the other driver and do not place any blame on yourself. Ask how to obtain the police report and get a copy as soon as possible.

Even if you haven’t been seriously injured, see a doctor within a day or so after the accident. You may have internal organ or head injuries that do not cause problems right away, but that need to be examined and treated.

If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, you should decline to discuss the case with them. It is best if you can refer them to an attorney you have already retained. The insurance company may try to get you to settle your claim quickly and cheaply.

Don’t accept a settlement offer from any insurance company without first speaking to a personal injury lawyer experienced with drunk driving accident claims in Georgia.

Millar & Mixon, LLC can assist you in a free initial legal consultation if you have been injured in a drunk driving accident in Atlanta or anywhere else in Georgia. If you have an insurance settlement offer, we can review it for you. Once we agree to take your case, we can handle all calls from insurers and others involved with your claim.

What kind of compensation can I expect to obtain in a drunk driving accident lawsuit?

A lawsuit after a drunk driving accident seeks compensation that will make the injured victim whole financially. While we cannot quote an amount or guarantee an outcome, some personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits result in settlements or court awards worth millions of dollars.

Typically a lawsuit seeks compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Funeral and burial expenses (in a wrongful death).

Economic damages are paid as a one-for-one reimbursement for quantifiable costs of the accident. They should be based on a calculation of past, present, and future losses due to medical bills and lost income or earning ability, property damage, etc. Noneconomic damages are decided by the jury or worked out in a negotiated settlement, often based on a multiple of economic damages.

In the state of Georgia, punitive damages are awarded to punish and deter “willful misconduct, wantonness, and entire want of care.” Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol clearly fits into this category. Few acts, in fact, can be more reckless. Generally, punitive damages in Georgia are capped at $250,000. However, because impaired driving is so especially egregious, it falls under one of the exceptions to this rule. There is no cap on punitive damages in DUI personal injury cases.

How can I afford to hire a lawyer to take my drunk driving accident case?

You can afford to hire a Millar & Mixon, LLC attorney because our legal services cost you nothing until we obtain compensation for you.

At Millar & Mixon, LLC, we do not charge for your initial case evaluation, nor do we charge for our legal services unless we are able to obtain compensation for you through either a jury verdict or a negotiated settlement.

This is known as a contingency-fee arrangement. Our fee depends on what we obtain for you. If we can take your case, we will agree to a percentage of any final settlement or award as our payment for legal services.

A contingency-fee arrangement protects you and motivates us to do the best we can for you. With our combination of skill, experience, and dedication, we are proud to say that the lawyers at Millar & Mixon, LLC have established a strong record of successful results for our clients.

We help drunk driving accident victims and their families from throughout the Atlanta metro area and across the state of Georgia. For a free evaluation of your case, call us today or reach us online.