Georgia DUI laws are codified under Georgia’s “Uniform Rules of the Road.” These laws require those operating motor vehicles to comply with certain traffic requirements. Violations of these laws generally lead to tickets. Repeated violations can result in jail or prison time.
Those suing for damages due to another driver’s negligence can use the Uniform Rules of the Road under the negligence per se doctrine. Negligence per se literally means that an act is negligent because the person performing the act is in violation of a statute. Negligence per se can also be applicable to driving under the influence (DUI) suits.
The Georgia Court of Appeals, in Johnson v. American National Red Cross, outlined the elements for a prima facie case of negligence as: “(1) a legal duty to conform to a standard of conduct; (2) a breach of this duty; (3) a causal connection between the conduct and the resulting injury; and (4) damage to the plaintiff.” If a plaintiff, by the preponderance of the evidence, proves these elements, then the accused defendant would be financially responsible to the plaintiff.
Georgia DUI Law
Georgia’s DUI laws ban drivers from operating motor vehicles if they have blood alcohol concentration percentages of:
- 0.08% or higher, if they’re 21 years old or older operating regular passenger vehicles.
- 0.04% or higher, if they’re operating commercial vehicles.
- 0.02% or higher, if they’re younger than 21 years old.
DUI charges are very serious in Georgia. The first conviction would require a defendant to undergo counseling and pay a fine. A fourth DUI conviction within ten years would have the defendant go to jail for one to five years, in addition to attending mandatory counseling and paying a fine.
Negligence Per Se
As previously mentioned, negligence per se is a legal theory wherein a defendant’s unexcused violation of a law creates a presumption that the defendant is guilty of negligence. Note that negligence per se does not mean that the defendant is liable for negligence, only that there is a presumption that the defendant was negligent.
In a car accident scenario where a person suffers injuries and the accused committed DUI, there is a presumption that because the defendant violated the DUI statute, he or she was negligent. First, it must be established that the defendant was driving under the influence above the legal limit. Once that is established, the injured party can claim that because the defendant violated the Georgia DUI law, he is therefore presumably negligent. At this point, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant, who must prove that he was not negligent. Thus, negligence per se is a powerful tool in proving the negligence of another because it creates a burden-shifting presumption.
If you have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another, you must find a lawyer who will aggressively fight on your behalf. Contact the personal injury law firm of Joel Williams, a Cobb County attorney.