According to a recent study from SafeWise, South Carolina has the second highest rate of drunk driving deaths out of all 50 states. With 6.22 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017, South Carolina has a higher rate of drunk driving deaths than any other state except for Wyoming, which saw 7.59 deaths per 100,000 people that year.
At the lower end of the range, New Jersey had the lowest drunk driving rate in the country, with only 1.38 drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people. The SafeWise study is meant to help people remain aware of the dangers of drunk driving and let states know when their rates of drunk driving deaths are unacceptably high (like in South Carolina).
If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving crash, get in touch with the Louthian Law Firm for a free initial consultation. We can help you get the closure and the financial damages you need to get through this difficult time.
Problems in South Carolina’s Drunk Driving Policy
There are several factors in common among the states with the highest rates of drunk driving deaths. The five worst states were Wyoming, South Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Alabama. One of the common threads among these states was a less stringent set of penalties for first-time DUI offenders.
- Most of the worst states have no minimum jail time for a first-time DUI offender. South Carolina is an exception to this, with a two-day minimum for a first offense.
- In most of the United States, first-time DUI offenders are required to undertake some type of alcohol abuse assessment or treatment. Four out of five of the worst states (including South Carolina) do not require alcohol abuse treatment.
- The minimum fines for the most dangerous states for drunk driving are considerably lower than the minimum fines for other states. A first time DUI offense in the five worst states requires an average fine of $300, while the five best-performing states have an average of a $524 fine for the same crime.
The news isn’t all bad, however: South Carolina’s drunk driving record may be unacceptable, but the rate of drunk driving deaths went down between 2016 and 2017. The loss of even one life to drunk driving is an intolerable tragedy, but progress is being made. The records of states like New Jersey show that good laws can drastically reduce the rates of drunk driving deaths. South Carolina may have a dismal drunk driving record, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.