Are Penalties Different if an Accident Is Involved?

While Georgia law already imposes harsh penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) convictions, anyone convicted of causing a drunken-driving accident in Atlanta, DeKalb County,  Marietta, Alpharetta — or anywhere else in the state — faces additional criminal charges as well as the possibility of a civil lawsuit.

Criminal charges for drunken driving accidents in Georgia

When an Atlanta drunken driving accident occurs, particularly if anyone is injured or killed, the consequences become substantially more severe than the standard Georgia DUI penalties and are always in addition to the standard amount of jail time, fines, and community service already ordered.  A felony conviction for these charges can mean very severe penalties on top of the ones imposed for a Georgia DUI, including the following:

  • Increased fines
  • Lengthy prison sentences
    • Homicide by Vehicle (DUI, Fleeing or Attempting to Elude, Overtaking a School Bus, or Reckless Driving) – sentences can range from 3 to 15 years in prison for each charge.
    • Serious Injury by Vehicle (DUI or Reckless Driving) – sentences can range from 1 to 15 years in prison for each charge.
    • Feticide by Vehicle (DUI or Reckless Driving) – sentences can range from 3 to 15 years in prison.
    • Hit and Run – 1 to 5 years in prison.
    • If the charges are misdemeanors, jail sentences are typically increased by the trial court, if there are fatalities or injuries involved.
  • Increased bail charges (sometimes having the same effect as no bail at all)
  • Multi-year license suspension with no limited permit

Additionally, auto insurance rates are steeply increased if a person’s actions cause a drunken-driving accident in Georgia.  The driver may also be dropped from their insurance policy.

Civil charges for drunken driving in Georgia

Anyone who causes a Georgia drunken driving accident is likely to face civil charges in addition to criminal charges (lawsuits).  Civil lawsuits are brought by individuals who directly experienced damage or bodily injury as a result of the accident or by families of individuals who were killed in the accident.

When a person is found liable in civil court, he or she can expect to pay extensive damages to the injured parties.  Settlements or verdicts for drunken driving lawsuits can include immediate property damage, medical bills, long-term medical care bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.  The at-fault driver must pay for the lifetime costs of a victim living with a permanent disability caused by the accident.  And, just because you may have insurance, does not mean you are shielded from judgments.  If a monetary award exceeds your insurance policy limits, you may be on the hook for the rest.

Even a verdict of not guilty in a criminal DUI case does not guarantee similar results in a civil case.  The rules of evidence are different between criminal and civil courts.  And, as civil court cases do not have reasonable doubt requirements, it is easier to lose in a civil case.

You need an experienced DUI attorney in Atlanta

If you were involved in a DUI accident in Georgia, you need a Georgia DUI law firm with experience and who knows how to fight these cases.  Whether you know you are innocent, or even if you feel you cannot avoid conviction, contact Chestney & Sullivan today at 404.816.8777 for the experienced support you need for your case.  An experienced DUI trial lawyer with our firm is available to discuss your case 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.