Police are searching for a Calhoun, Georgia, man allegedly involved in a deadly hit and run auto accident that took place on Interstate 75 on April 17. According to Georgia State Patrol reports, the 21-year-old driver reportedly left the scene after his truck hit an SUV driven by a Florida man. The Florida driver died when his vehicle overturned after the collision and a passenger riding with him was injured. The Calhoun man has warrants for driving unlicensed or with an expired license, failure to report an accident with an injury, death or damage, homicide by vehicle, serious injury by vehicle, hit and run leaving the scene of an accident, failure to maintain lane, improper turn or lane change and possession of an open container in the vehicle.
In Georgia, reckless driving is a misdemeanor and drivers convicted face a $1,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail. Under state law, reckless driving is considered criminal negligence. Additional charges make the penalties more severe, and the open container charge suggests the driver had been drinking at the time of the crash. If a DUI charge is added, the penalties can depend on whether the driver is a first or a repeat offender.
Because the passenger in the other vehicle was injured, the person's family could sue for damages. Because the accident resulted in a death, a worst-case scenario for the 21-year-old would be if prosecutors filed manslaughter or murder charges. When the case goes to court, the judge will also take into consideration the driver's choice to leave the scene of the accident.
Young drivers in their teens and early 20s are more likely to make mistakes than older drivers. The court may take that into consideration in the sentencing phase, but there are no guarantees. Attorneys in Georgia may advise clients facing auto accident charges on their rights and options and recommend courses of action.
Source: Calhoun Times, "Calhoun man wanted in fatal I-75 hit and run," Abbey Lenon, April 17, 2013