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Know the Risks of Intoxicated Driving BY JOEL WILLIAMS

As we get prepared for all the fun and excitement associated with the holiday season, drivers should remember the consequences of impaired driving. Impaired driving can lead to jail time, or worse, a crash that results in catastrophic injuries or death. With the emergence of rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft, there simply is no excuse for drinking and driving. Despite the severe criminal penalties and risk of injury associated with impaired driving, it continues to happen at an alarming rate throughout the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, at least 10,142 people died in 2019 because of drunk driving crashes. This equates to one death every 52 minutes. Through its Drive Alert Arrive Alive initiative, the Georgia Department of Transportation reported that 1,507 people died on Georgia roads in 2019, and 76% of these fatal crashes were caused by unsafe driving behavior. That means 95 people, on average, lost their lives every month due to unsafe driving. Alcohol negatively affects the central nervous system, reduces brain function and impairs reasoning and muscle coordination. It also lowers inhibitions. Often, this causes the intoxicated individual to make the poor decision to drive, because they may not recognize the dangers involved. You can avoid making poor decisions by arranging transportation before you drink. Designated drivers, rideshare

apps, taxis and public transportation are reasonably safe transportation methods that should be considered after a few holiday drinks. When someone is injured at the hands of a drunk driver in Georgia, they can sue the person who caused the wreck and include a claim for punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to punish and penalize the drunk driver. Normally punitive damages are capped at $250,000. However, when you drink and drive, Georgia law does not limit the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit against you. This means that, in addition to paying for someone’s physical injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage, a drunk driver faces unlimited exposure for punitive damages, which, in drunk driving cases, can far exceed the amounts assessed in criminal cases. Plan ahead if you intend to drink this holiday season, to avoid jail, injury, death or financial ruin.

Joel Williams is a partner at Williams|Elleby, a Kennesawbased personal injury law firm. www.gatrialattorney.com.

Competing in Today’s Real Estate Market BY JAY WHITE

Buying a home is an exciting process; a home is the largest asset most people own. When buying this asset, you must be prepared. Not being prepared can lead to a stressful experience. Being properly prepared to buy a home will not only reduce stress and make the experience enjoyable, it also gives you leverage in negotiations and will separate you from other offers. Pre-qualifications are no longer enough to have your offer accepted in this extremely competitive market. You must be fully approved to make an offer on a home these days. Despite what many commercials say, being fully approved does not happen instantly and cannot be done without providing certain documentation. A full approval requires the following:

• Income documentation. Depending on your

situation, the level of documentation will vary. • Assets. The accounts for the funds owed at closing (down payment and closing costs) need to be verified. The steps above will ensure a full approval for your mortgage application, pending the appraisal and a clear title. With these steps being completed, you will be on your way to buying your dream home. Partnering with the right lender will be crucial, as some mortgage companies can do full approvals in 24 hours or less. Good lenders can help you leverage your position of being fully approved to help you beat the competition.

• Full mortgage application.

• Mortgage credit check. The credit score you see

online is not the same as a mortgage credit score you have access to; these are totally different scores, in most cases.


AROUND KENNESAW | December 2021

Jay White, top 1% in the nation in mortgage originators according to Mortgage Executive magazine, has 19 years of experience and is a multimillion dollar producer for Bay Equity Home Loans.