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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > DUI > What Are the Consequences of Damaging Property During a DUI in Georgia?

What Are the Consequences of Damaging Property During a DUI in Georgia?


You may know that a DUI charge in Georgia carries significantly harsher penalties if another person is injured or killed as a result of the defendant’s drunk driving. But what about property damage? Could you face elevated charges if the police suspect you were drunk when you struck another car or even a building?

Recent Accidents Involved Damage to Church, Home

DUI cases involving property damage are more common than you may realize. For example, police in Rome, Georgia, recently arrested a man suspected of DUI in a hit-and-run accident involving a vehicle that crashed into a local Lutheran church. Officers responded to the scene and soon thereafter identified a suspect, who told the police, “It was me.” In addition to DUI, the suspect now faces charges of “fleeing or attempting to elude police, hit and run, driving with a suspended license and reckless driving,” according to WSB Atlanta.

In another recent case, police in Albany, Georgia, arrested a driver after he drove his car into a house. Fortunately, the homeowner was out at the time. WALB in Albany reported that the driver now faces charges of DUI (less safe) and failure to maintain a lane.

As the first story indicates, one potential criminal charge from causing property damage in a suspected DUI is “reckless driving.” Georgia’s traffic laws broadly define reckless driving as operating a vehicle ” in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Reckless driving is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum potential sentence of 12 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

In terms of how property damage may affect a DUI case, keep in mind that the victim–in this case, the property owner–can file a civil lawsuit separate from any criminal prosecution. The burden of proof is substantially lower in civil cases than in criminal court. So even if a DUI suspect secures an acquittal in their criminal trial, they could still face significant civil liability.

And this is where a DUI can prove financially devastating. In a personal injury claim, an aggrieved plaintiff can not only seek compensation for the damage to their property. They can also ask a jury to award punitive damages for their egregious or reckless behavior. Normally, Georgia law caps punitive damage awards at $250,000. But this limit does not apply in drunk driving accident cases. So it is possible for a civil jury to award millions of dollars in punitive damages if the evidence shows the defendant committed a DUI.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

You should never assume that just because you get into an accident that only damages property rather than people that the legal system will take it easy on you. Nor should you be quick to admit anything to the police. Instead, you should speak with a Georgia Board-certified DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.




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