Georgia imposes strict penalties for drivers who drink and operate a motor vehicle while under the influence, especially if they are caught with their children riding as passengers. As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a resident of Cobb County was handed a 15-year sentence by a Superior Court judge for a DUI crash that resulted in the loss of his 11-year-old son.

 In January of 2018, with his two children in a Mazda CX-7, the man lost control of his vehicle and slammed into a tree after running off Brownsville Road. The driver and his eldest son were injured and survived the crash, but his younger 11-year-old son died three days later from his injuries. At his trial, the defendant pleaded guilty to not only the DUI charge, but also to driving with an open container and a suspended license. His other charges included endangering a child and first-degree vehicular homicide, which were part of his plea. Although it was a first-time offense, the judge sentenced him to serve four years in jail and eleven years of supervised probation, which requires that he undergo treatment for substance abuse.

 Sentencing for a conviction related to a first-time DUI charge is generally not as severe as that which was handed down for the Cobb County defendant. If convicted of a first-time DUI, the penalties might include community service, a license suspension and a jail sentence of up to one year. When a DUI results in injuries or death, however, much harsher sentences may be imposed. Regardless of whether there is an absence of harm to others, and as outlined by the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, a second or third DUI offense may also bring heavier penalties.