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Garbage Truck Fatality Involves Alcohol

Posted by Richard Lawson | Nov 11, 2013 | 0 Comments

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and MyFoxAtlanta.com alcohol may have been a factor in the fatal garbage truck roll-over accident earlier this week on I-75 in Atlanta.

The garbage truck, attempting to exit the southbound I-75 off ramp at Cleveland Avenue, over-corrected and left the road completely.  Police say the truck rolled over several times, tearing itself in half, ejecting the passenger Derryl Simmons, 54, and killing him.  The driver sustained serious injuries in the roll over and was taken to nearby Grady Memorial Hospital where he remains.

Subsequent investigations led to a statement from the Mayor's Office that alcohol may have played a role in the fatal crash.  “Saturday's fatal car crash involving employees of the Department of Public Works was a horrible tragedy that has deeply affected our workforce,” said Carlos Campos, interim director of communications for Mayor Kasim Reed.

Councilman Michael Bond affirmed Mr. Campos statement, indicating that an open container of vodka had been found in the cab of the garbage truck.

Presumably, hospital workers would have take blood samples from the driver for medical purposes, the results of which may lead to criminal charges being filed.

In a typical attempt to maintain relevance, the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (M. A. D. D.) organization interjected itself into the story by offering the City its services for training programs to impress upon sanitation workers the seriousness of drinking and driving.

If tests results do reveal the presence of alcohol in any significant amount the driver of the truck may be charged with homicide by vehicle in the first degree, DUI, and failure to maintain lane.

Homicide by Vehicle in the first degree is found in Title 40 of the Georgia Code and is listed 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 (passing a school bus), Code Section 40-6-390 (reckless driving) or 40-6-391 (DUI), or subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-395 (fleeing a police officer) 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. (bold emphasis added).

Of course, in order to prove this charge, prosecutors will also have to prove the underlying DUI charge.  Your Atlanta DUI Attorney will be there every day to make sure the State meets its burden of proof.  

A violation of the DUI law in Georgia (O.C.G.A 40-6-391) requires proof of the following, that:

(a) A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while:

(1) Under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;

(2) Under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;

(3) Under the intentional influence of any glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;

(4) Under the combined influence of any two or more of the substances specified in paragraphs (1) through (3) of this subsection to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;

(5) The person's alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams or more at any time within three hours after such driving or being in actual physical control from alcohol consumed before such driving or being in actual physical control ended; or

(6) Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this Code section, there is any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined in Code Section 16-13-21, present in the person's blood or urine, or both, including the metabolites and derivatives of each or both without regard to whether or not any alcohol is present in the person's breath or blood.

The timing of the blood draw will be an issue in the DUI case...how close to the time of the actual driving it was taken will be a major factor.

The final charge the State would be contemplating in this case would be 'Failure to Maintain Lane.

"Whenever any roadway has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic, the following rules, in addition to all others consistent with this Code section, shall apply:

(1) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety;

(2) Upon a roadway which is divided into three lanes, and provides for two-way movement of traffic, with two lanes in one direction, a vehicle being driven in a continuous or center lane shall have the right of way when overtaking and passing another vehicle traveling in the same direction;

(3) Upon a roadway which is divided into three lanes and provides for two-way movement of traffic, a vehicle shall not be driven in the center lane except when overtaking and passing another vehicle traveling in the same direction when such center lane is clear of traffic within a safe distance, or in preparation for making a left turn, or where such center lane is at the time allocated exclusively to traffic moving in the same direction that the vehicle is proceeding and such allocation is designated by official traffic-control devices or road striping;

(4) Official traffic-control devices may be erected directing specified traffic, including but not limited to buses or trucks, to use a designated lane or designating those lanes to be used by traffic moving in a particular direction regardless of the center of the roadway, and drivers of vehicles shall obey the directions of every such device; and

(5) Official traffic-control devices may be installed prohibiting the changing of lanes on sections of roadway, and drivers of vehicles shall obey the directions of every such device. It is unclear from the report whether there were witnesses to any of the events that lead to the garbage truck rolling over and tearing in half, resulting in the death of one of the sanitation workers and the injuries to the second, but the presence of alcohol in the driver's blood will more than likely give the State probable cause to charge him with the listed offenses.

If you have been arrested for homicide by vehicle, DUI or any other traffic related offense, you need experienced and effective representation immediately.  Contact the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson at our 24 hour hotline (404) 816-4440 to schedule your free consultation today.  Richard has been handling DUIs and other traffic related cases for over 20 years.  He is the top ranked DUI Defense Attorney in Atlanta and throughout North Georgia, according to AVVO.

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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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