Several adults, and at least one teenager face charges arising out of a fatal drunk driving accident that killed a 16-year-old Villa Rica boy. The adults include fathers of some of the teenagers involved, as well as a liquor store owner.
The accident occurred over the weekend when a car full of teenagers crashed in Douglas County. According to the Georgia State Patrol, when the at-fault driver lost control of his SUV, and the resulting accident killed 16-year-old passenger. The SUV drivers was on bond for drug and alcohol charges at the time of the accident. Not surprisingly, the judge has denied his bond application this time around.
Investigations have been tracing the at-fault driver’s actions just before the accident. According to them, he first made a stop at a party being hosted by the teenage grandson of a Villa Rica man, who has now been charged in the accident for allowing underage drinking in his house. There, the at-fault SUV driver consumed an undetermined amount of alcohol, and then went on to his next stop, another party that was being hosted by another teenager. In that case too, the teenager had been allowed by his father to drink with his minor friends. This teenager purchased alcohol at a Douglasville liquor store, and the liquor store owner now faces charges. The at-fault SUV driver consumed more alcohol at the second party, and then drove on, resulting in the accident.
The number of arrests related to this fatal drunk driving accident could actually increase. Police say that at least four more adults could be charged, including a 21-year-old man who is accused of providing alcohol to the high school students just before the accident.
One basis for liability in these types of cases is the Georgia Dram shop law which provides:
O.C.G.A. 51-1-40 (2010)
51-1-40. Liability for acts of intoxicated persons
(a) The General Assembly finds and declares that the consumption of alcoholic beverages, rather than the sale or furnishing or serving of such beverages, is the proximate cause of any injury, including death and property damage, inflicted by an intoxicated person upon himself or upon another person, except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this Code section.
(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.
(c) In determining whether the sale, furnishing, or serving of alcoholic beverages to a person not of legal drinking age is done willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, evidence that the person selling, furnishing, or serving alcoholic beverages had been furnished with and acted in reliance on identification as defined in subsection (d) of Code Section 3-3-23 showing that the person to whom the alcoholic beverages were sold, furnished, or served was 21 years of age or older shall constitute rebuttable proof that the alcoholic beverages were not sold, furnished, or served willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully.
(d) No person who owns, leases, or otherwise lawfully occupies a premises, except a premises licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages, shall be liable to any person who consumes alcoholic beverages on the premises in the absence of and without the consent of the owner, lessee, or lawful occupant or to any other person, or to the estate or survivors of either, for any injury or death suffered on or off the premises, including damage to property, caused by the intoxication of the person who consumed the alcoholic beverages.
As an Atlanta car accident attorney, one thing is clear to me – adults should be doing much more to reduce teen drunk driving and accident rates. This is a category of drivers that is already at a high risk for drunk driving, because of peer pressure, inexperience and other factors. When adults encourage minor children to drink, the consequences are bound to be devastating for all concerned.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident and would like discuss your case, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.