Earlier this month, a driver under the influence of alcohol collided with another vehicle on Georgia Highway 20 in Bartow County. The collision caused both vehicles to end up in the median of the highway. The resulting injuries were substantial and resulted in the death of a woman and two children.
The driver who caused the collision was charged with three counts of first-degree vehicular homicide, serious injury by vehicle, driving under the influence, and following too closely. This event highlights one of many types of situations in which a Georgia motor vehicle driver can be charged with serious injury by vehicle.
Because serious injury charges involve a variety of factors, individuals who face these types of charges frequently benefit from obtaining the services of an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.
Applicable Georgia Law
Georgia law defines a “serious injury by vehicle” as an event where a motor vehicle driver causes bodily harm to another individual by:
- Making a part of the victim’s body useless,
- Seriously disfiguring an accident victim’s body, or
- Causing brain damage to an individual.
A jury must determine whether any injury is considered serious enough to satisfy the definition of “serious.” An injury does not need to be permanent or life-threatening to qualify as “serious” in nature. Some examples of serious injuries including blurred vision, hearing damage, and a two-inch scar.
If an accident involves two injured individuals, an individual can also end up facing two separate serious injury charges for each victim of the accident.
Defending Against a Serious Injury Charge
Malicious intent is not necessary to satisfy a serious injury, which means that individuals are unable to defend against such a charge by arguing the individual lacked intent to commit the crime. The state of Georgia also treats serious injury charges in the same manner as DUI charges, which means that individuals cannot be charged for both DUI and serious injury.
If an individual is able to demonstrate that he or she was not driving under the influence or driving recklessly, however, law enforcement will not be able to succeed in a serious injury by vehicle conviction. Because serious injury charges include proof that an individual was driving under the influence, individuals can use the same tactics to defend against a serious injury charge as they would do driving under the influence charge.
Some common defenses include failure of law enforcement to read Miranda rights, improper alcohol level tests, or that a stop occurred without probable cause.
Consequences of a Serious Injury Charge
An individual who is charged with a serious injury charge faces a minimum of one year in custody and up to 15 years in prison. Individuals can also face substantial fines, community service, and alcohol intervention programs. When serious injuries have occurred, many judges are likely to charge individuals with sentences much longer than one year.
Other factors that can intensify penalties include high blood alcohol content levels and if an individual has any prior DUI convictions. As a result of these significant penalties, individuals should understand that serious injury charges are treated by the state of Georgia as a significant felony offense.
The Assistance of a Top Atlanta DUI Attorney
If you face a serious injury charge, it is a wise idea to retain the services of an experienced Atlanta DUI attorney at Yeargan & Kert who can create a strong defense in response to serious injury charges.