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Car Surfing Ends in Tragic Death and Homicide Charges

Posted by Richard Lawson | Nov 15, 2013 | 0 Comments

An ill-conceived teenage stunt ended in the death of one Dawsonville teen and homicide charges for another, reports the Atlanta Journal -Constitution.

State Troopers have charged a 16 year-old Dawson County teen with Vehicular Homicide, reckless driving, driving too fast for conditions, and violating license restrictions following a tragic accident involving car surfing.

'Car Surfing' describes a range of behavior from hanging out the window of a moving vehicle to actually climbing outside and 'surfing' on the roof or hood.  A search for car surfing videos on YouTube returns over 250,000 hits, highlighting the growing trend of this dangerous activity among teens around the globe.

On the night of June 10th an unnamed 16 year old girl was driving an SUV in the southbound lane of Couch Road near Dawsonville, in excess of the speed limit. Another teen, Anna Gabrielle Hawkins, 16 was outside of the vehicle 'surfing' on it, when the driver apparently crossed over into the northbound lane after approaching a curve, hitting the embankment and killing Ms. Hawkins.

After a lengthy investigation and decision-making period, authorities have finally decided to charge the driver with Homicide by Vehicle, Reckless Driving, Driving Too Fast for Conditions and Violating License Restrictions.  The 16 year-old female driver of the 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara was cited into Dawson County Juvenile Court, where she will face the felony charge along with the other misdemeanors.

In order to prove the Homicide by Vehicle charge, prosecutors will also have to prove the underlying Reckless Driving charge upon which it is based.  In Georgia, vehicular homicide takes place when a death is caused because the driver of the vehicle is also guilty of one or more specific charges as outlined in the statute, in this case, reckless driving.

Homicide by Vehicle is defined as follows:

O.C.G.A. 40-6-393 (2010)40-6-393.

Homicide by vehicle

(a) Any person who, without malice aforethought, causes the death of another person through the violation of subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-163, Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391, or subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-395 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than 15 years.

(b) Any driver of a motor vehicle who, without malice aforethought, causes an accident which causes the death of another person and leaves the scene of the accident in violation of subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than 15 years.

(c) Any person who causes the death of another person, without an intention to do so, by violating any provision of this title other than subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-163, subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270, Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391, or subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-395 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the second degree when such violation is the cause of said death and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided in Code Section 17-10-3.

(d) Any person who, after being declared a habitual violator as determined under Code Section 40-5-58 and while such person's license is in revocation, causes the death of another person, without malice aforethought, by operation of a motor vehicle, commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than five years nor more than 20 years, and adjudication of guilt or imposition of such sentence for a person so convicted may be suspended, probated, deferred, or withheld but only after such person shall have served at least one year in the penitentiary.

Due to the age of the accused however, she has apparently been charged as a minor and will be subject to punishment by the Juvenile Court, which is not necessarily bound by the sanctions outlined in the above law.

In Georgia, a child under the age of 17 is not deemed capable of committing a crime, and therefore her charges will not become part of her permanent criminal record upon reaching majority.  There are certain heinous crimes where an individual as young as 13 years old may be charged as an adult, however that does not seem to be the case here. Therefore, this case will go to juvenile court. Our office has Dawson County DUI Lawyers here to help you or any family member charged with DUI related offenses.

She may be subject to sentencing to a detention facility, fines, probation, counseling, community service and/or possibly a Youth Diversion Program or wilderness camp program.  Rather than focusing on punishment, the focus of the Court in juvenile matters is what is in the best interests of the youth.  While this does include holding a youth accountable for her actions, it also encompasses issues such as ongoing welfare and rehabilitation.  In this case, there may be long lasting psychological consequences for the driver of the vehicle due to the death of another girl we can only presume was her friend.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson are well-equipped to handle matters in Juvenile Court, as well as any traffic related offenses in other courts. Richard has been handling DUI and other traffic offenses for nearly 20 years, tackling cases from both sides, as prosecution and as defense counsel.  This gives him valuable insight and experience you cannot find in other attorneys.  Top-ranked with AVVO and one of the most highly respected defense attorneys in Georgia, Richard Lawson is the choice for effective representation in your DUI or traffic case. Call our office now at (404) 816-4440 to schedule your free consultation or use the Contact form on our website.

Our Georgia DUI Lawyers look forward to defending you.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard Lawson has devoted his entire career to DUI Defense. He exclusively handles DUI Cases. As a former DUI Prosecutor he knows both sides of your case. Put his experience to work for you. You only have 10 days to protect your right to drive. Call now for immediate attention. We are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

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