Drunk Driving Accidents
Recent figures show that only two states in the U.S. have more drunk driving fatalities per year than South Carolina. Nearly 360 people in the Palmetto State were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2012. Add to that the number of people injured, then multiply by the number of family members and friends impacted by the injuries and deaths, and you can see that drinking and driving is the cause of a tremendous amount of suffering – suffering for which there is really no excuse. That’s why the Louthian Law Firm in Columbia, SC, is dedicated to securing justice for the victims of drunk drivers.
How Alcohol Use Affects the Driver
Drunk driving accidents can be extremely serious for many reasons, including the fact that an intoxicated driver may be less able to slow down or swerve to avoid a head-on collision or a high-speed collision due to his or her impaired state. Even at a .02 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) – well under the legal alcohol limit for a DUI charge in South Carolina — the user experiences a decline in visual functions and difficulty performing two tasks at the same time. Alcohol can also cause a driver to become drowsy and to misjudge distances.
How Alcohol Use Affects the Victim
As MADD says, “First there’s the crash, then there’s the lifelong impact.” The victim of a drunk driving crash is likely to have immediate medical expenses, future rehabilitation costs, and continuing reduction in his or her ability to enjoy life as it was before the accident. In the United States, the public cost of alcohol-induced traffic incidents is estimated to be around $114.3 billion when you include both the monetary costs and the value of life losses.
Why should an individual have to bear the cost of a drunk driver’s choice to get behind the wheel when impaired? If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving crash in South Carolina, you have legal rights, and you can hold the driver responsible for his or her bad choices.
Drunk Drivers in South Carolina
South Carolinians enjoy drinking. They consumed 32.7 gallons of beer per capita in 2012, among the highest amounts in the U.S. That activity is also reflected in the state’s arrest statistics: Law enforcement arrested more than 17,900 people for drunk driving in 2012, one of the higher totals in the U.S.
Unfortunately, those arrests aren’t always made before the drunk driver causes harm. Nor do they always deter the person from being a repeat offender. According to MADD:
- A report to Congress on the Prevention of Drunk driving revealed that there were 14,148 offenders in South Carolina who had been convicted of driving drunk three times.
- There were 1,968 five-time DUI offenders in South Carolina.
Not only is this frustrating for those attempting to reduce the incidence of drunk driving, research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that repeat offenders are more likely to cause harm to others. When comparing first-time DUI offenders with repeat offenders, it was found that a person with a prior DUI has 4.1 times the risk of being involved in a fatal automobile accident.
South Carolina Drinking and Driving Laws
Since 2007, South Carolina has mandated ignition interlock devices for those convicted of multiple drunk driving offenses. In 2014, another law, referred to as Emma’s Law, was passed to expand the punishment for all convicted drunk drivers. Under Emma’s Law, all offenders, including first-time offenders, who were driving with a BAC of .15 or greater must install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle they drive for a period of six months. In addition, first-time offenders with a BAC of .08 to .14 may elect to use an interlock in order to drive with no geographic restrictions in lieu of a license suspension.
Holding Drunk Drivers Responsible for their Actions
Drunk drivers can injure not only themselves but also innocent people who just happen to be sharing the road with them. If a drunk driver causes a crash and injures you, you can take legal action and file a lawsuit against the intoxicated driver. As experienced personal injury attorneys, we will work to establish that the driver was drunk and caused the crash, entitling you to recover damages for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress and other losses. In the event that the drunk driver caused a death, the surviving family members of the person who was killed could be able obtain compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The drunk driver should have insurance, and the insurer should pay for your losses. If the drunk driver was not insured or had too little insurance, then you may be able to recover compensation from your own insurer instead, if you carry uninsured motorist / underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). The drunk driving attorneys of the Louthian Law Firm can assist you in obtaining compensation either from your own insurer or from the insurer of the intoxicated driver or both.
Hurt in a drunk driving crash in South Carolina? Here’s how we can help.
At the Louthian Law Firm, our dedicated lawyers will do everything it takes to compile a compelling case on your behalf. We’ll visit the scene of the accident, interview witnesses and experts and collect medical records. Throughout the process, we will keep you informed. South Carolina defense attorneys and insurance companies know our reputation. As fierce advocates for our clients, we will do everything we can to get you the settlement you need. South Carolina is No. 3 on the list of states for drunk driving fatalities; justice for their families is our No. 1 priority.
Since 1959 the Louthian Law Firm has been recovering fair compensation for accident victims all over the state of South Carolina. The firm’s attorneys are licensed to practice in all courts in South Carolina. For a confidential case evaluation, call us at (803) 454-1200 or use our online contact form.