Driving under the influence is a major issue on Atlanta’s roads. Though there are transportation options like MARTA, Uber, and taxis to help people get home safely after a night of drinking, many people still choose to drive home drunk. Unfortunately, that means wrecks caused by drunk drivers are all too common.
In 2016 alone, there were 368 traffic fatalities involving impaired drivers — accounting for 24 percent of all traffic fatalities that year. While this is lower than the national percentage of 28 percent, it is still devastatingly high. The victims of these car accidents are often innocent drivers and passengers who are hit by drunk drivers.
While you may think the drunk driver is always at fault for the collision, the truth is that Georgia’s DUI laws allow for a variety of parties to potentially be held responsible. An Atlanta car accident attorney at Rafi Law Firm can help you figure out who can be held liable in a DUI wreck, and what all of your legal options are.
Besides the driver themselves, there are three other parties who may be held responsible in a DUI car accident: a restaurant or bar who served the drunk driver, a person who lent their car to a drunk driver, and/or a company who hired a drunk driver who had a history of DUIs.
Georgia’s Dram Shop Laws
Like many states, Georgia has a dram shop law. If a bar, restaurant, club, or other establishment “knowingly sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages” to a person who is noticeably intoxicated, knowing that the person will soon be driving, the establishment may be held liable for any injury or damage caused by that person. The intoxicated person may cause injuries to other patrons (for example, if they stumble into another person, causing them to fall), or they may cause injuries as a result of drunk driving.
In addition, if an establishment “willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages” to a minor, knowing they will be driving soon, they may be held liable for any injury or damage caused by that minor when they’re on the road—even if the individual was not “noticeably” intoxicated at the time of sale
If an establishment “sells, furnishes, or serves alcoholic beverages” to a person of drinking age, and they had no way of knowing they would be driving afterward and weren’t noticeably intoxicated, the establishment can’t be held liable or any injury, death or damage caused by the intoxicated person.
However, proving whether or not a server should’ve known if a person would be driving is difficult, especially when so many people get an Uber and leave their car in the parking lot after a night of drinking.
Georgia law doesn’t specifically require you to stop someone from driving if you know they’re drunk. However, there are laws that prohibit “negligent entrustment.” For you, this means if you let a person drive your car when you know they’re drunk, you can be held liable if they cause damage or injury to another person. However, you must have “actual knowledge” of the intoxication. For instance, if you didn’t watch your friend drink, and they don’t appear drunk at all, you may not be held liable.
The same principle applies to companies who hire drivers with a history of DUIs. To establish liability you must show that the company “had actual knowledge of numerous and serious violations on its driver’s record, or, at the very least, when the employer has flouted a legal duty to check a record showing such violations.”
To put it simply, if a company knew about the DUIs and still hired the person, or they didn’t conduct a proper background check to discover the DUIs, they can be held liable for any injury caused by that driver if they’re driving drunk on the job.
Speak to an Atlanta Car Accident Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Atlanta, you have legal rights. Most often, you can hold the driver themselves accountable for your injuries. But if you are injured in a collision caused by a drunk driver, you may have other options available to you. It’s true that the drunk driver will be held liable in most instances–and establishing negligence on the part of that drunk driver is relatively easy for experienced attorneys.
But in instances of dram shop law violations and negligent entrustment, trying to hold the at-fault party accountable can be much more difficult. You must prove that a person was visibly or otherwise noticeably drunk when they were served more alcohol or entrusted with a vehicle before causing a wreck.
In these cases, it’s crucial you hire an Atlanta car accident attorney as soon as possible. At Rafi Law Firm, we have helped injury victims recover millions of dollars in compensation. For a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, call us at 404-800-1156 or contact us online today.