While we all know how dangerous it can be to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol, people continue to take the wheel when impaired. DUI drivers can cause accidents which result in serious injuries and even death.
If you were injured in an accident with a drunk driver in Charleston, you may be entitled to compensation. Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney can offer you the guidance and expertise for your DUI accident case in Charleston. Call us at 843-701-8029 to find out how we can help you recover damages from a drunk driving accident.
What Constitutes a DUI in Charleston, South Carolina?
A person may be convicted of a DUI if they have a BAC of .08 or higher. However, if they are exhibiting erratic driving behavior and have a BAC between .05 and .08, they may also be convicted.
It is also illegal to drive under the influence of drugs. This includes prescription drugs that may impair judgment, marijuana, and more serious substances. If a law enforcement agent notices erratic driving behavior and does not detect a BAC, they may use a variety of methods to determine if drugs are present in the driver’s system.
Driving with an open container of liquor in your car is illegal in South Carolina as well.
A note on implied consent: According to South Carolina law, anyone driving in the state is considered to have given consent for testing their breath, blood, or urine for the presence of drugs in the system. If you refuse to be tested, you face an automatic 90-day suspension of your license, 180 days if you have a prior DUI conviction.
How Much Can You Get Fined for a Charleston DUI?
DUIs come with hefty fines and sentences. Here’s what a driver may be looking at if they are caught driving under the influence:
- DUI first offenses: Fine of up to $400 with assessments and surcharges of $992 and/or imprisonment of 40 hours to 30 days and a six-month license suspension
- DUI second offenses: A fine of $2100–$5100 with assessments and surcharges of $10,744.50 and imprisonment of five days to one year and a one-year license suspension
- DUI third offenses: A fine of $3800–$6300 with assessments and surcharges of $13,234.50 and imprisonment of 60 days to 3 years and a four-year license suspension
- DUI fourth offenses and beyond: A prison sentence of one to five years and a permanent revocation of your driver’s license
If the DUI resulted in grave bodily harm or death, the punishment will be more severe.
A grave bodily injury such as one that leads to a disability, disfigurement or is potentially fatal will incur a mandatory fine of $5,100 to $10,000 as well as a 30 day to 15-year prison sentence.
If the victim dies, mandatory fines go up to $10,100 to $25,100 along with a prison sentence of 1- 25 years.
Can a Victim Collect Punitive Damages in a DUI?
In most personal injury claims, victims will be able to collect compensatory damages. These are damages that cover their losses and include:
- Loss of wages (current and future)
- Medical expenses (current and future)
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Property damage
In some instances, the drunk driving accident victim can also collect punitive damages. Punitive damages are set in place when the defendant’s behavior is considered excessively reckless. They are meant to keep the defendant from engaging in similar activities in the future.
Punitive damages are not a requirement in every DUI case. The court will need to look at various factors to determine if they will come into play. These include:
- The defendant’s BAC at the time of the accident
- Whether the defendant has any prior DUI convictions
- Whether the defendant was completely responsible for the accident
Some states put a cap on punitive damages. In South Carolina, the caps depend on the conduct of the defendant.
At base cap, punitive damages are limited to $500,000 or three-times compensatory damages, whichever is greater. If the defendant is being charged with a felony, the cap will increase to $2 million or four-times compensatory damages. If the defendant was substantially impaired or acting with intent to harm, there will be no cap on the damages.
Recovering punitive damages is not easy. Your Charleston DUI accident lawyer will need to gather strong evidence and present a compelling case.
Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney seeks justice on your behalf that the drunk driving defendant is appropriately punished.
What Are South Carolina’s DUI Statistics?
Despite raising awareness regarding the dangers of DUI, incidents continue to occur. Here are some South Carolina statistics to consider:
- One person in South Carolina is killed in a DUI collision every 28 hours.
- DUIs are a main contributory factor to fatal collisions, accounting for 21.6% of fatalities.
- DUIs were cited as the primary contributor factor for 200 fatal collisions, 214 deaths, 2,414 injury collisions, 3,553 injury cases, 2,557 property-only collisions.
- 32% of total fatalities in the state were related to alcohol impairment as compared to the national percentage of 29%.
- 40% of non-fatal DUIs happen on S.C. secondary roads while 20% happen on primary roads.
- Most DUI accidents happen on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday between 9 PM and midnight.
Contact a Charleston DUI Accident Lawyer to Recover Compensation for Your Injuries
A DUI accident is a stressful experience. The right lawyer will make the claims process easier to deal with. We can take care of all the legalities and help you focus only on your recovery.
Choose a Charleston, South Carolina DUI accident lawyer with a proven track record for results. Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney has years of experience with motor vehicle accident cases, including those involving DUIs. We are known for our high level of customer service and our winning results, and won’t see a dime unless we help you win your case.
Together we can make DUI drivers pay. Don’t delay, call Trey today!