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16 year old Columbus, GA girl killed in tragic drunk driving accident

COLUMBUS, GA - Northside High student, 16-year-old Hannah Gilmer was killed in a car accident on County Line Road back on June 15, 2012. According to police records, Hannah's 17-year-old boyfriend, Clayton Qualls, was driving her 2006 Toyota Scion under the influence of alcohol when he lost control of the car before spinning out, flipping the car several times and eventually striking a tree.

The accident occurred at a little after 11 o'clock on Friday night, June 15, 2012.

Ms. Gilmer was ejected from the car during the accident and, according to the accident report, neither of the teens were wearing their seat belts.

Qualls survived the accident but Ms. Gilmer was pronounced dead just after 1AM on June 16, 2012.

Clayton has been charged with numerous traffic charges, which include 1st degree vehicular homicide, DUI, and improper lane change.  The underage drinking charges are not the first Qualls has faced. On June 4, 2012, he was arrested on charges of DUI under 21 and minor in possession of alcohol.

"My heart goes out to this young woman's family. This is such an awful tragedy. I know the family is suffering a tremendous loss," said attorney Gary Martin Hays.

This wreck really points out some important lessons for parents and their teenagers.  "People should never get behind the wheel and drive a vehicle after they have been drinking, and in the case of this 17-year-old boy, he should never have been drinking at all." Hays stresses how important it is to talk with your children about the dangers of under age drinking.

It is also extremely important to remind people to always wear their seatbelts. According to the CDC, "Seat belt use is on the rise. Laws, education, and technology have increased seat belt use from 11% in 1981 to nearly 85% in 2010, saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Yet, about 1 in 7 people still don't buckle up."

Gary Martin Hays is a very active supporter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D) and has served on the state advisory council in Georgia. He has also sponsored a fundraiser for M.A.D.D , Strides for Change, in support of their mission.

If a drunk driver is negligent in causing an accident, their insurance company is responsible for compensating the victims of the accident. In a case such as this, the family may pursue a claim for wrongful death and seek punitive damages since the defendant was allegedly driving under the influence. Other parties that may be responsible for compensating victims could include an establishment that served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual or a homeowner who hosts a private party where the drinks/drugs were served.

Fatal accidents such as this can cause extreme emotional and financial stress. The unexpected loss and sudden grief can be devastating to the victim's loved ones. It is very important that families of the victims know that they have every right to seek legal advice and they may be eligible for financial compensation.

Here at the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays, we have an expertly trained staff of professionals ready to assist you in your wrongful death claim. We have recently expanded our offices from Atlanta to Savannah, making our services available to all Georgia residents. Call us today for your FREE legal consultation: 1-800-898-HAYS.

New DUI Laws Go Into Effect in GA

Starting January 1, 2013

As the New Year kicks off, partygoers busted for DUI may find that they have a few more options for places they are allowed to drive while using a limited permit and a slight reduction on their "hard suspension" times.

The Facts About The Law:

First time offenders over the age of 21 or "first in five years" offenders will be eligible for hardship permits that extend the types of locations they are allowed to drive.

As the law stated before Jan. 1, these limited permits allowed certain DUI offenders the ability to drive to school, work, doctors offices, support group meetings and DUI courses.

This new broadened license allows them to drive to their probation officer, attend court, and do work for community service.

Furthermore, drivers on this new expanded permit will be allowed to drive their family members who do not have a drivers license to school, work and/or to receive medical services and aid.

Beginning on Jan. 1, if a DUI offender has been arrested twice in the last 5 years, they will automatically serve a 120 day hard suspension for driving, and then will be allowed to apply for an ignition interlock limited permit.

Before receiving their limited permit, they must show the following:

1.      Certificate of eligibility for an ignition interlock limited driving permit from the court that sentenced the person

2.      Clinical evaluation completion and enrollment in substance abuse program approved by the Department of Human Services

3.      Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction program

4.      Installation of an ignition interlock device in any vehicle that shall be used by the DUI offender

Were you hurt by a drunk driver?

While these new laws could potentially benefit drunk drivers, our law offices actively fight to protect those who may have been hurt in a drunk driver accident.

Gary Martin Hays & Associates actively supports Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), encouraging the Georgia legislature to take a tough stance against drinking and driving.

It is important to maintain your right to full compensation from all sources by filing certain claims and notices in a timely manner. It is also imperative that a thorough investigation be undertaken as soon as possible to fully document the contributing factors.

The drunk driver put you in a tough position. Our experience can help you recover. Call today.

Every drunk driver accident victim has the right to see that the law is applied fairly to all, not just to big corporations and insurance companies. At Gary Martin Hays & Associates, we provide aggressive legal representation for personal injury victims. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation: 1-800-898-HAYS.