Charleston Attorneys for Car Accidents Caused by DUI
An intoxicated driver has impaired vision, hearing, reaction time, and judgment. It doesn’t matter whether a driver consumes alcohol or drugs before getting behind the wheel. The danger they pose to others’ lives and welfare is the same.
If a drunk driver injures you or a loved one, you shouldn’t have to foot the cost of your medical recovery or missed time at work. The Charleston car accident attorneys at Crantford Meehan can guide you through your legal options in a free consultation. Call our office today at (843) 376-4030.
DUI Laws in South Carolina
The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in South Carolina is 0.08 percent. Officers are to presume that someone is driving under the influence if they test at or above the limit. However, just because a driver is under the limit does not mean they won’t face penalties. Even if someone’s BAC is 0.05 percent or higher, they may still be charged with DUI if they are not visibly sober.
If an officer asks to test someone’s blood, breath, or urine for alcohol or drugs, that person is assumed to consent. If they do not, they could face a 90- to 180-day suspension of their driver’s license.
If someone previously guilty of DUI offends again, the penalties they face will increase. The maximum penalties for misdemeanor DUIs include the following:
- First offense – The first offense carries a maximum fine of $400, a prison term of 48 hours to 30 days, and a 6-month driver’s license suspension.
- Second offense – The second offense carries a maximum fine of $5,100, a prison term of five days to one year, and a one-year driver’s license suspension.
- Third offense – The third offense carries a maximum fine of $6,300, a prison term of 60 days to 3 years, and a two-year driver’s license suspension. If the third offense was within five years of the first, the license suspension could last up to four years. Law enforcement could also confiscate the driver’s vehicle if a third or subsequent offense were within a decade of the first.
- Fourth offense or later – The fourth offense and any subsequent offenses carry a prison sentence of up to five years. The DPS may also permanently revoke the offender’s driver’s license.
If someone causes severe injury or death while driving under the influence, it is a felony DUI offense. The penalties for felony DUI depend on the circumstances of the accident:
- Bodily injury only – If the driver causes “great bodily injury” but not death, they could face a fine of up to $10,100 and up to fifteen years in prison.
- Death – If the drunk driver caused someone’s death, they could face a fine of up to $25,100 and up to 25 years in prison.
Who Else Could Be Responsible in a DUI Case?
The responsibility in a DUI case may not rest exclusively with the driver. For example, a restaurant, bar, or another establishment cannot legally serve alcohol to a customer they know is visibly intoxicated. They may be liable to compensate you if you can prove they violated this law, and their customer injured you while the alcohol was still in their system.
This doctrine is called “dram shop liability.” While it is not the law in South Carolina, the state supreme court has previously upheld claims involving it. As your lawyer identifies who is responsible for the accident, they will attempt to determine where the drinks that the driver consumed came from.
South Carolina DUI Accident Statistics
The Department of Public Safety (DPS) tracks statistics about all motor vehicle accidents occurring within state lines. Some of their findings include the following:
- Between 2016 and 2020, there were 1,529 fatal crashes involving a drunk driver above 0.08 percent BAC. DUI-related deaths represent under 30 percent of all fatal crashes during that period.
- In 2020, the counties with the most fatal DUI-related crashes were Spartanburg (22,) Richland (21,) Greenville (21,) Charleston (20,) and Horry (20).
- Just over two-thirds of fatal DUI-related crashes were on state highways, with the remaining third on county roads, interstates, or U.S. highways.
- Roughly 56 percent of all fatal DUI-related crashes in 2020 occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
Time Limit to File a DUI Accident Lawsuit
South Carolina’s statute of limitations sets the deadline for you to file a lawsuit in your case. Generally, the latest you can file is three years after the accident occurred.
However, if your case meets one of these criteria, the filing period may change:
- A minor was injured – If the injured person was under 18 when the accident occurred, the filing period ends on their nineteenth birthday.
- Someone with a mental disability was injured – If the injured person was previously declared “insane,” the filing period ends one year after they are no longer “insane.”
- The defendant leaves South Carolina – The statutory time frame will pause if the drunk driver leaves South Carolina before you file the suit. It will start again when they resume residency in the state.
For the best chances at securing the compensation you need, don’t wait to obtain the services of an experienced attorney. The earlier your legal team begins assembling your case, the more options you and they might have.
Consult a Charleston DUI Accident Attorney
At Crantford Meehan, our mission is to serve clients with respect, dignity, and skill. We’ve earned the backing of our peers and professional associations in South Carolina and nationwide. We have a track record of successful personal injury cases, and our results speak for themselves.
If an intoxicated driver injured you, let us research what happened and assemble your case while you recover. Contact our Charleston car accident attorneys at (843) 376-4030 today. Your initial consultation is free.
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