Georgia Labor Day 2019 Traffic Fatalities

Labor Day weekend is typically one of the most dangerous travel periods on Georgia roads. According to statistics released by the Georgia Department of Public Safety, nine (9) people lost their lives in deadly traffic accidents over the 78 hour holiday travel period in 2019.

Georgia State Patrol Troopers alone (not counting local agencies) investigated traffic accidents in which 288 people were injured this year. Also of note, Georgia State Patrol Troopers alone investigated 244 DUI cases and issued over 600 citations for violations of the Georgia Hands-Free law.

The fatality count for the 2019 Labor Day holiday weekend was half of the 2018 count.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed as a result of an unsafe driver in the State of Georgia, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation.

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Utah change in legal BAC limit to 0.05 may save lives

This blog post addresses a change in DUI law designed to prevent wrongful deaths and serious injuries in automobile accidents involving alcohol impaired drivers. Earlier this week a new law went into effect in Utah lowering the legal BAC to 0.05. Other states will surely be watching to see what effect this change has in saving lives in DUI related traffic accidents.

The USA Today (link to story here) published an interesting piece regarding some of the statistics regarding DUI accidents and fatalities pertaining to the lower 0.05 BAC limit. The story cites and links to a study (link to study on National Institutes of Health website here) by James Fell and Robert Voas which “concluded that a .05 BAC limit would prevent 11 percent of fatal crashes involving alcohol and save nearly 1,800 lives each year.”

The USA Today story further cites NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) statistics which show that when a person has a BAC between 0.05 and 0.079 that person is seven times more likely to be in a fatal accident than a person with no alcohol in his blood.

They also cite statistics from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) which show a person can start exhibiting impairment from alcohol with a BAC as low as 0.02 and that driving skills worsen considerably when a person’s BAC reaches 0.05.

Of particular note in the story, though 67% of fatality DUI accidents involve drivers with BACs of 0.15 and above, in 2016 there were 2,017 alcohol related fatalities nationwide involving drivers with BACs of under 0.08 (the legal limit currently in Georgia).

It will be interesting to see what effect this change has on traffic fatalities in Utah in 2019. If it has any significant impact on saving lives I would predict other states will soon follow by changing their laws. The USA Today story notes that most developed countries already have stricter DUI limits such as Utah’s new 0.05 legal limit.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a Georgia traffic accident with a DUI driver, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Final Georgia Traffic Fatality Count for Thanksgiving Travel Period

The last thing anyone wants to think about around the holidays is the need for a personal injury and wrongful death attorney or the statistics of Georgia traffic wrecks and fatalities. Unfortunately, with the high volume of motorists traveling and the fact that some people choose to drink and drive, car accidents, deaths on our roadways, and DUIs are more prevalent around major holidays.

The Georgia Department of Public Safety has released the final statistics for the 2018 Thanksgiving travel period. Statewide 15 people lost their lives in traffic crashes during the 102 hour period. Ten of these deaths were investigated by the Georgia State Patrol, while local agencies in Gwinnett County (1 fatality), DeKalb County (3 fatalities), and Cobb County (1 fatality) also investigated roadway fatalities.

The report also indicates there were 242 people injured in car or truck wrecks investigated by just the Georgia State Patrol over the travel period. The Georgia State Patrol alone also made 339 DUI arrests during the time frame.

As we head into the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, please take extra precaution on the roads and report suspected drunk drivers.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed as a result of an unsafe driver, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Georgia Traffic Fatalities for Labor Day 2018

According to WSB-TV, traffic fatalities in Georgia for Labor Day weekend in 2018 were double the number of fatalities from 2017. Additionally, DUI arrests and crashes increased from 2017 to 2018 for the Labor Day holiday weekend.

As cited in the WSB story, there were 18 traffic fatalities over the Labor Day holiday weekend this year in Georgia, while only nine last year. Total crashes increased to 446 from 396 the prior year, while DUI arrests increased to 332 from 248 the prior year.

Many holidays have higher fatality, accident, and DUI statistics than regular weekdays and weekends. Part of the reason for this is the consumption of alcohol and other intoxicants during holiday celebrations and part of the reason is the increased travel (with more vehicles on the road) during holidays.

The 2018 Labor Days statistics cited in the WSB story certainly do not show a trend when the only comparison is with the previous year, but they do offer all of us a safety reminder. When on the roads around any holiday, take extra safety precautions because there will be more cars on the road and there may be more intoxicated drivers out there. 

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed as a result of an unsafe driver, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Charter Bus from Gwinnett Headed to Masters Wrecks, Overturns

Driver alleged to have been DUI

According to the Gwinnett Daily Post, a charter bus from Gwinnett County crashed and overturned today on its way to the Masters in Augusta, Georgia. The story reports that there were 18 passengers on board and several were taken to the hospital. Fortunately, it appears the injuries were not life threatening. The driver of the bus was alleged to have been a DUI driver at the time of the incident. As a Gwinnett County personal injury and wrongful death attorney who handles cases throughout the State of Georgia, this sad incident brings up several legal issues regarding the rights of the injured.

Federal Law Requires Minimum Insurance for a Bus with this Number of Passengers

Knowing that the bus was one which carried 16 or more passengers, under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Subtitle B, Chapter III, Subchapter B, Subpart C, § 387.303 the owner/operator was required to maintain a minimum of $5,000,000 in insurance liability coverage. Hopefully, none of the non-life threatening injuries were catastrophic.

If even one person received a catastrophic injury such as paralysis, if the company had bare minimum coverage that one claim could take up all the liability coverage available. For this reason, it is very important for anyone injured in such an accident to seek an attorney immediately to assert his or her claim before policy limits are potentially exhausted.

Additionally, evidence can be collected and preserved the sooner an attorney gets to work on the case. Motor carriers and their insurance companies get to work immediately to reduce their exposure. Spoliation letters to preserve evidence and the right to inspect evidence are important tools for a plaintiff's lawyer.

Punitive Damages at Issue with DUI Allegation under Georgia Law

Another part of this case is that the driver of the bus was charged with DUI. As this blog post is based on the news report linked in the first sentence of the post I must stress that the DUI charge is an allegation only and everyone charged with a crime s presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, should a personal injury lawyer have facts to prove this allegation, punitive damages will be at issue in the case. 

Under Georgia law, when a defendant was negligent while "under the influence of alcohol, drugs other than lawfully prescribed drugs administered in accordance with prescription, or any intentionally consumed glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to that degree that his or her judgment is substantially impaired," punitive damages with no cap or limit can be sought. See O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1(f). In other words, if a DUI is proven the plaintiffs are not limited to $250,000 in punitive damages as is the case with many other tort cases in Georgia. 

Let's all hope these passengers recover to good health. 

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bus wreck, DUI wreck, truck wreck, or any other type of auto accident, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

2017-2018 Georgia New Year's Traffic Accident Statistics

As a personal injury attorney based in Gwinnett County who focuses on auto accident and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia, the statistics from the recent New Year's travel period are not shocking, but further demonstrate the dangers on the roadways in Georgia.

According to the AJC, in the State of Georgia over the New Year's travel period there were nine traffic fatalities and "330 traffic crashes, 137 injuries, 6,542 citations, 10,680 warnings and 231 driving under the influence arrests."

Please stay safe on the roadways and encourage others to drive safely as well. 

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury or loss in a traffic accident, please contact injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Christmas Traffic Fatalities Up in Georgia in 2017

A fatal traffic collision is tragic no matter when it occurs, but during the holidays this year there have been several traffic fatalities in metro Atlanta and the media coverage at this time of year brings needed attention to the tragedy families suffer. Words alone in a newspaper cannot even begin to express the loss for the loved ones of accident victims. A recent Gwinnett County accident is one example. On December 23, Lisa Cox, a wife, mother, employee, and by all reports a wonderful person lost her life in a head-on collision on Ga. 316 with a suspected drunk driver who had previously been arrested for DUI in Gwinnett County. 

According to the AJC, Lisa Cox was one of 15 victims who lost their lives on Georgia roads during the 2017 Christmas travel period. This was nearly double the figure from 2016 when eight people died on Georgia roads. This year Georgia State Troopers investigated a total of 515 traffic accidents which resulted in 219 injuries. Troopers also arrested 192 people for DUI. These statistics appear to be those of the Georgia State Patrol only and do not take into account the countless other accidents, injuries, and DUIs handled by county and municipal police forces.

The Christmas travel period was one day longer this year because of the timing of Christmas falling on a Monday, but these incidents on the roadway were up regardless. At Christmastime these tragedies are especially sad, but these senseless losses happen every day. Please report any suspected DUI drivers immediately by calling 911.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury or loss in a traffic accident, please contact injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Stay Safe on Georgia Roads on New Year's Day

Georgia State Troopers are stepping up enforcement of DUI laws over the holidays and that is for good reason. 

Major holidays are cause for celebration, but too often persons consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel. Depending on the source of the statistics different holidays are ranked the most dangerous days of the year to be on the roads, but regardless of the source certain major holidays consistently rank near the top. With New Year's Eve right around the corner, please keep in mind the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

It is safest to stay home on New Year's Eve, but if you go out to celebrate at a party do not drink and drive. Even if you remain sober or have a designated driver, it is not a bad idea to avoid driving and stay at a hotel or friend's home to avoid traveling after midnight. According the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in the years 2010-2014 New Year's Day was the second deadliest day of the year on United States roads behind only Independence Day. On average there were 118.2 deaths on New Year's Day in that time span, just behind the 118.4 average of Independence Day. That is nearly 28 deaths more than the average day. Further, on a typical day 35% of fatality accidents involve at least one driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist with a blood alcohol concentration over Georgia's legal limit of 0.08 g/dL, while on New Year's Day that percentage spikes to 62%.

Please keep in mind the dangers of driving after the clock strikes midnight and we ring in the new year. Have a safe and prosperous 2018.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury or loss in a traffic accident, please contact injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Olevik a/k/a Plevik Georgia DUI Case Impact on Criminal and Civil Cases

In the recently decided case of Olevik a/k/a Plevik v. State, S17A0738 (Ga. Sup. Ct., decided October 16, 2017), the Supreme Court of Georgia held that under Article I, Section I of the Constitution of the State of Georgia, “Paragraph XVI protects against compelled breath tests and affords individuals a constitutional right to refuse testing.” Id. at p. 48 of the slip opinion. This case may have a major impact on Georgia DUI (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391) criminal prosecutions, and may have some effect on Georgia civil lawsuits where DUI offenders cause injuries.

Georgia has DUI implied consent statutes (most pertinent for this brief summary:  O.C.G.A. §§ 40-5-55, 40-5-67.1, and 40-6-392) in which DUI suspects, once placed under arrest, are typically read an implied consent notice in which they are informed that Georgia law requires them to consent to a state-administered chemical test of their blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances to determine if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Further, they are informed that if they refuse the testing their driver's license will be suspended.

Case law for decades up until the Olevik a/k/a Plevik decision held that although the Georgia General Assembly provided a statutory right to refuse implied consent testing, the legislature through O.C.G.A. § 40-6-392(d) had limited that right to allow for admission of the refusal in any criminal trial. In other words, it was not a right such as a federal constitutional Fourth Amendment right to refuse consent to a search in which a suspect's refusal could not be used against him at trial. In Georgia DUI trials, when a suspect refused an implied consent test, that refusal was admissible in evidence to show that a test would have shown intoxicating substances and to demonstrate a consciousness of guilt.

The Olevik a/k/a Plevik opinion seems to indicate that there is now a Georgia constitutional, as opposed to a federal constitutional or Georgia statutory, right to refuse implied consent testing. This right is based on greater self-incrimination protections afforded people in Georgia under Article I, Section I, Paragraph XVI of the Georgia Constitution than those protections given under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The argument now is that with a constitutional, as a opposed to a mere statutory, right to refuse implied consent testing, breath test refusals should not be admissible into evidence at criminal trials.

However, this is a very undetermined area of Georgia law at this time. Prosecutors are now arguing that the holding of the Georgia Supreme Court in Olevik a/k/a Plevik is found at page 36 of the slip opinion which states, "[a]ccordingly, we overrule Klink and other cases to the extent they hold that Paragraph XVI of the Georgia Constitution does not protect against compelled breath tests or that the right to refuse to submit to such testing is not a constitutional right." Prosecutors are focusing on the word "such" in page 36 to claim that the holding, which, as cited in the first paragraph of this blog post above from page 48 of the slip opinion does not contain the word "such," means that there is only a constitutional right to refuse compelled breath testing. Defense attorneys are obviously arguing that it cannot be any clearer when the Court announced its holding at page 48 that there is a constitutional right to refuse in Georgia. 

It appears that there is likely now a constitutional right to refuse testing in which a refusal of a breath test cannot be used against a DUI suspect in a criminal trial. This is because compelled breath testing was already unlawful prior to this new decision. However, the law is unsettled and will be clarified in subsequent opinions in the next year.

This can have a major impact on DUI criminal prosecutions as breath test refusal cases may be harder to prosecute. It may also result in more police departments obtaining search warrants to draw blood samples in the future when suspects refuse breath tests. In civil cases, it can potentially make those existing DUI injury cases more difficult to settle as some DUI prosecutions that would have resulted in convictions may end up with crucial evidence inadmissible and less bargaining power when the question of whether a liable party was driving under the influence is still at issue. However, in civil cases, DUI breath test refusals in Georgia should still be admissible as criminal self-incrimination rights should not prohibit a police officer from testifying about a DUI driver's refusal in a civil trial.

If you would like to speak with an attorney about a DUI injury or fatality case, please contact Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation today.

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585.The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Georgia Dram Shop Statute

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. Based in Lawrenceville, Georgia in Gwinnett County, he handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. Call him for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585.

Dram shop laws refer to laws that hold liable establishments that serve alcohol to patrons who then drive and injure or kill innocent victims. The Georgia dram shop statute is O.C.G.A. § 51-1-40. The pertinent part of the statute is subsection (b) which provides:

“(b) A person who sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury, death, or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, including injury or death to other persons; provided, however, a person who willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age, knowing that such person will soon be driving a motor vehicle, or who knowingly sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages to a person who is in a state of noticeable intoxication, knowing that such person will soon be driving a motor vehicle, may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person when the sale, furnishing, or serving is the proximate cause of such injury or damage. Nothing contained in this Code section shall authorize the consumer of any alcoholic beverage to recover from the provider of such alcoholic beverage for injuries or damages suffered by the consumer.”

In other words, when a person in Georgia is injured or killed by a driver who was driving under the influence of alcohol, in addition to recovering damages from the DUI driver, the person or business that either sold, furnished, or served the alcohol to that driver may also be held liable and may be an additional source of recovery. O.C.G.A. § 51-1-40(b) applies when alcohol is sold, furnished, or served:

(1)

a.  Willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully to a person under 21 years of age, OR

b.  Knowingly to a person who is in a noticeable state of intoxication;

(2) Knowing that such person (either the under 21 person or the noticeably intoxicated person) will soon be driving a motor vehicle; and

(3) when the sale, furnishing, or serving is the proximate cause of the injury or damage.

The statute further provides a defense to the person or business serving the alcohol to under 21 persons when relying on an identification showing the person was 21 or older. In any dram shop case there will be significant battles during the course of negotiation or litigation regarding each of the three elements outlined above. It is very important to have a lawyer representing you if you have been injured by a DUI driver as dram shop cases can be very complicated to prove. While a battle, dram shop laws are a potential source of a significant increase in recovery to victims of DUI drivers who often have significant losses. Many victims of DUI wrecks sustain life-altering injuries, and, unfortunately, there are way too many DUI Vehicular Homicide wrecks in Georgia.         

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in DUI motor vehicle wreck in Georgia, contact attorney Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation today.

The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.