It is well-known that consuming alcohol impairs the ability to drive a motor vehicle. Yet, drunk driving remains a common cause of auto accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that out of the 767 motor vehicle fatalities in South Carolina during one recent year:
- 50 percent involved a driver who had consumed alcohol (a blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC, of 0.01 percent or more)
- 44 percent involved at least one driver with a BAC of 0.08 or more
- 29 percent involved a driver with a BAC of .15 or more.
If you or a family member has been in a car crash in Florence or elsewhere in South Carolina, it may have been caused by a drunk driver. A car accident lawyer from Jebaily Law Firm can investigate your case and seek just compensation for you. Contact us today to learn more about your rights and options for recovery.
What Are the Drinking and Driving Laws in South Carolina?
If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a driver’s suspected alcohol use, a critical question will be whether the driver was impaired as a matter of law.
Under South Carolina law, it is illegal to drive a car “while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired.”
Additionally, if a driver’s BAC is 0.08 or higher, the person “is guilty of the offense of driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration.”
Those convicted of driving drunk in South Carolina may be required to enroll in Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program classes. Unfortunately, statistics show that these drivers often do not learn from their punishment.
The NHTSA’s most recent data shows that, out of the drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher who were involved in fatal crashes during one recent year, 19 percent had a prior DWI conviction. Additionally, 14 percent had previously been involved in a crash, and 24 percent had a suspended or revoked license.
Why is Drunk Driving Negligence?
Drivers should know that alcohol impairs a person’s physical and mental abilities. They should also know that driving under the influence of alcohol while impaired is illegal (especially if they have been previously convicted of the offense).
In personal injury law, a person who fails to live up to their duty of care to other people is deemed to be negligent. Driving drunk, which is universally considered to put others at risk of injury and death, is a prime example of negligence.
In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party must show that the defendant, such as an allegedly drunk driver, breached a duty of care owed to you (the plaintiff), and that this breach caused your injuries.
A successful drunk driving personal injury claim would demonstrate that:
- The defendant was impaired while operating a motor vehicle
- The defendant’s impairment led to the motor vehicle accident in which you, the plaintiff, were injured
- Your injuries were the direct result of the accident
- Your injuries are compensable.
South Carolina law also adheres to a principle known as “comparative negligence.” This means the relative fault of each party in an accident must be considered when awarding compensation to the plaintiff in a claim.
If you were partially to blame for the accident – for instance, you were speeding at the time a drunk driver hit you – your compensation would be reduced accordingly. You would not be barred from compensation unless your fault exceeded the fault of the drunk driver or others to blame for your crash.
How Our DUI Accident Lawyers Can Pursue Compensation for You
After any car accident that causes serious injury or death, it is important to determine all of the facts surrounding the crash. This includes learning about the driver’s actions prior to the wreck, such as whether he or she was drinking and impaired at the time of the crash.
The car accident attorneys at Jebaily Law Firm investigates drunk driving accidents on behalf of injured accident victims. We work to establish the extent of the victim’s compensable injuries and losses and to determine who should be held liable (legally responsible.)
We compile evidence in a variety of ways, including:
- Obtaining police reports (including toxicology test results)
- Collecting witness statements
- Examining the accident scene and wrecked vehicles
- Analyzing a vehicle’s “black box” data
- Consulting with accident reconstruction experts
- Working with medical experts and financial experts to determine the costs of a victim’s losses.
Accident reconstruction specialists can help us to explain complex accidents. Financial planning experts can help us to calculate the long-term costs of permanently disabling injuries.
With all available evidence collected, we can seek just compensation from the at-fault driver and/or others involved in a drinking and driving accident case.
Social Host Liability in South Carolina
Under South Carolina’s “social host” law, a person who knowingly serves alcohol to an underage consumer (not yet 21 years old) may be held liable for accidents and injuries the underage consumer causes.
Witnesses in a drunk driving accident case may be able to state that the underage consumer was drinking at a party, picnic, or some other function prior to the crash. These days, it is not unusual for a driver’s cell phone data or various social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter to provide this and/or other valuable information related to a drunk driving accident case.
As part of our investigation, Jebaily Law Firm will seek to hold all parties accountable.
FAQs about DUI Laws in South Carolina
The following are answers to a few Florence South Carolina DUI FAQs that should be used for informational purposes only and are subject to change.
Under 21: .02% BAC | 21 or Older .08% BAC | Commercial .04% BAC
There isn’t one correct answer to this question, there are calculators and tables that can serve as a reference; however, these devices cannot predict with certainty what your exact BAC level will be at a given time. There are many factors that contribute to an individual’s BAC score, including weight, sex, body-fat percentage and the time interval between drinks. Studies have shown that a person’s BAC could go up between .01 and.05 percent for each drink taken. The fact is it takes very little alcohol to become legally drunk and each drink taken is a another step closer to becoming an “impaired” driver. The best answer is not to drink and drive. The State of South Carolina has strict laws for drunk driving, and when you drink and drive in South Carolina, you risk your freedom, finances and your future.
South Carolina’s implied consent law means that any person who drives a motor vehicle on the roadways of the state is considered to have given their consent to a chemical test of their blood, breath or urine if they are detained by law enforcement who believes the driver was driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both. If you refuse to submit to such a test, your driver’s license will be immediately suspended for at least 90 days. In addition you can still be charged and convicted of a DUI without a chemical test if the arresting officer convinces the court that you were intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle.
No, a plea bargain for a conviction of “wet reckless” (reckless driving involving alcohol) is barred by statute in South Carolina.
- Fine of $400 or imprisonment for not less than 48 hours or more than 30 days.
- In lieu of the 48 hour minimum imprisonment, the court may allow you to perform 48 hours of public service. If your alcohol concentration is at least 0.10% but less than 0.16%
- Fine of $500 or imprisonment for not less than 72 hours or more than 30 days.
- In lieu of the 72 hour minimum imprisonment, the court may provide for 72 hours of public service. If your alcohol concentration is 0.16% or more
- Fine of $1,000 or imprisonment for not less than 30 days or more than 90 days.
- In lieu of the 30 day minimum imprisonment, the court may provide for 30 days of public service. A first offense charged for this item may be tried in a magistrate court.
- Fine of not less than $2,100 nor more than $5,100
- Imprisonment for not less than 5 days nor more than one year. If your alcohol concentration is at least 0.10% but less than 0.16% :
- Fine of not less than $2,500 or more than $5,500.
- Imprisonment for not less than 30 days or more than two years. If your alcohol concentration is 0.16% or more
- Fine of not less than $3,500 nor more than 46,500
- Imprisonment for not less than 90 days or more than three years. A person convicted of or pleading guilty to a second or subsequent DUI must surrender the registration and license plate for all motor vehicles owned or registered to him/her for a period of 30 days unless the vehicle has been confiscated. A fee of $50 must be paid to the DMV for each motor vehicle suspended before any of the registrations or license plates may be registered or before the motor vehicle may be released pursuant to subsection.
- Fine of not less than $3,800 nor more than $6,300
- Imprisonment for not less than 60 days or more than three years. If your alcohol concentration is at least 0.10% but less than 0.16%
- Fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $7,500
- Imprisonment for not less than 90 days or more than four years. If your alcohol concentration is 0.16% or more
- Fine of not less than $7,500 nor more than $10,000
- Imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than five years; or
Fourth or Subsequent Offense
- Imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than five years. If your alcohol concentration is at least 0.10% but less than 0.16%
- Imprisonment for not less than two years or more than six years. If your alcohol concentration is 0.16% or more
- Imprisonment for not less than three years or more than seven years. How many years can separate the offenses? Only those violations which occurred within a period of ten years including and immediately preceding the date of the last violation constitute prior violations.
The Department of Motor Vehicles must require the person, if he or she is a subsequent offender and a resident of this State, to have installed on any motor vehicle the person drives, an ignition interlock device designed to prevent driving of the motor vehicle if the person has consumed alcoholic beverages. The length of time that an interlock device is required to be affixed to a motor vehicle following the completion of a period of license suspension imposed on the offender is two years for a second offense, three years for a third offense, and the remainder of the offender’s life for a fourth or subsequent offense.
The cost of the interlock device must be borne by the offender. This fee is not to exceed $360 per year for each year the person is required to drive a vehicle with an ignition interlock device. The interlock device must be inspected every 60 days to verify that the device is affixed to the motor vehicle and properly operating. This report will indicate the offender’s alcohol content at each attempt to start the vehicle during each 60-day period. If your alcohol level is too high, the vehicle will not start.
The offender shall be subject to an Interlock Device Point System managed by the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. An offender receiving a total of two points will have their length of time that the interlock device is required extended by two months. An offender receiving a total of three points will have their length of time that the interlock device is required extended by four months and must submit to a substance abuse assessment and successfully complete the plan of education and treatment, or both, as recommended by the certified substance abuse program. If you do not complete the recommended plan, or do not make progress toward completing the plan, the Department of Motor Vehicles must suspend your driver’s license until the plan is completed or progress is being made toward completing the plan. An offender receiving a total of four points shall have their license suspended for a period of one year and submit to a substance abuse assessment and successfully complete the plan of education and treatment, or both, as recommended by the certified substance abuse program. Completion of the plan is mandatory as a condition of reinstatement of the person’s driving privileges. The Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services is responsible for notifying the Department of Motor Vehicles of an individual’s completion and compliance with education and treatment programs.
Contact an Experienced Florence Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
The Jebaily Law Firm can compile the evidence required to pursue a claim that seeks full compensation for your losses after a car accident. We will document the medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering you have been through and will face in the future.
The insurance companies involved in your accident will undoubtedly work to minimize their payout to you. We will counter their work with aggressive negotiations based on solid evidence. When necessary, we will go to court to pursue a positive outcome for you and your family.
Contact us today if you have been injured or lost a loved one in an auto accident caused by a suspected drunk driver in Florence or elsewhere in South Carolina. We will thoroughly investigate your accident and injuries and seek the compensation you deserve.
Sources / More Information
- Traffic Safety Facts: Alcohol-Impaired Driving, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration