Fatal car accidents occurring as the result of a motorist driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are always tragic. Just as unfortunate, is when the resulting car crash claims not only the lives of other, innocent motorists but also the lives of the inebriated motorist’s own passengers. All too often, we hear about the negligence of an irresponsible parent leading to the injury or death of a child. Such a situation is even more heartrending because children are essentially defenseless.
Barely able to walk, let alone see over a steering wheel or reach foot pedals, children are not qualified to be designated drivers. They cannot protest when their inebriated parent loads them into a vehicle, or drunkenly permits them to drive. They cannot confiscate the car keys from their parents’ hands, and neither can they call for a ride. Oftentimes they are too young to fasten their own seatbelts and they certainly are incapable of properly installing their own booster seats. Instead, that’s a duty to be fulfilled by their parents. It’s most unfortunate that the people responsible for ensuring their children’s’ safety often fail to recognize the gravity of their responsibility – until it’s too late.
One Smyrna, Georgia father recently learned the consequences of such irresponsibility in the worse way possible. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the father of an 8-month-old baby has been charged with vehicular homicide after he caused a head-on car collision while under the influence of various drugs. The child’s car seat had been installed incorrectly. Two other children, ages 3 and 7, also improperly restrained, were injured in the crash as well as three adults. Additional charges are pending for the father/motorist, including a charge for driving under the influence, as investigators await news regarding the medical status of the other children involved in the car crash.
Georgia car accident attorneys are aware that the state employs a plethora of impaired driving laws pertaining to the issue of DUI car accidents. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-393, for example, is the Georgia law pertaining to homicide by vehicle. In Georgia, the law requires only an act of “mere negligence” in order for a driver to be charged with vehicular homicide. Because driving under the influence indicates that the guilty motorist knew that he posed a known threat to others, a felony charge will most likely be applicable in such a case.
Homicide by vehicle aside, there also exists a myriad of other statutes, encompassing both misdemeanors and felonies, which may be taken into consideration by the time this particular case is heard in court. With cases of drunk driving like this one steadily garnering media attention, it is important that the public be made aware that there are ways to preempt the occurrence of such car wrecks.
A primary way is to be on the guard for and recognize possible signs of drunk driving such as:
• Taking extremely wide terms
• Following another vehicle to closely
• Driving without headlights
• Failing to follow signs or stopping inappropriately at crosswalks/green lights
• Straddling a center lane or marker
• Crossing the median
• Weaving through traffic
• Driving entirely too slow or erratically for conditions
• Passing too closely to other vehicles or stationary structures
Once a potentially impaired motorist has been identified, not only should other motorists endeavor to avoid them, but they should also call the corresponding police authority or emergency service. Even if the impaired driver is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she may be succumbing to fatigue or an equally dangerous medical condition or malady. All too often people fail to alert the authorities for fear of misdiagnosing a situation, but in cases like these it is often better to err on the side of an abundance of caution.