When a person is involved in a Greenwood DUI accident in South Carolina, they should know that they are not alone. Sadly, thousands of accidents happen every year in our state as a result of drunk drivers, and many of those lead to injuries and even death.
Who is to Blame for a Greenwood DUI Accident?
When one is involved in a crash with an impaired driver, whether the person is under the influence of prescription medications, alcohol, or drugs, it can be easier to prove the fault of the other driver. In many instances, the fact that the driver was impaired and most likely arrested at the scene of the accident can be overwhelming proof that the driver was responsible for the incident. What is more, the sobriety tests, video footage, and blood and breath analyses that are usually collected when the driver is arrested may provide even further evidence that the impaired driver is to blame for the crash.
Can a Greenwood Crash Victim Sue the Impaired Driver?
Yes. Anyone who is injured by an impaired driver in the state of South Carolina can bring a case against the at-fault driver for injuries caused by the crash. Just like any other driver that caused an incident on the road, impaired drivers can be held financially liable for their irresponsible actions.
Can Criminal Charges Be Brought Against the Driver?
A simultaneous criminal action brought against the drunk driver can be confusing for many people. There are those people that believe a civil lawsuit cannot be brought against someone who is also undergoing a criminal case. However, this is not true. Just because the impaired driver is facing criminal punishment for the accident does not protect that person from being held accountable in our civil justice system. Even if the at-fault driver is convicted and in prison, the victim can still sue and force the impaired driver to pay any judgment as a result of a personal injury lawsuit.
Seeking Damages for DUI Accident in South Carolina
People involved in a Greenwood DUI accident may be able to collect damages, just as with any other vehicle accident case. Drivers who get behind the wheel when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol can also be held responsible for rehabilitation expenses, medical bills, property damages, lost wages, and even pain and suffering caused by the incident.
What About Punitive Damages?
Other than the usual damages sought in most car accident cases in South Carolina, drunk driving cases may involve punitive damages. The punitive damages represent a unique category of damage that is most often reserved for cases where someone is seriously injured due to the other driver’s grossly negligent or reckless behavior. The punitive damages are designed to serve as a punishment for the impaired driver and also to serve as further compensation for the victim of the crash. If punitive damages are awarded in a case, they are paid out over and above the compensation the victim receives for injuries suffered as a result of the accident.
What Constitutes a Legally Drunk Driver in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, a driver over the age of 21 is considered legally drunk when:
- The blood alcohol level is .08 or above
- A driver of a commercial vehicle’s blood alcohol level is .04 or greater
- A driver is younger than 21, and the blood alcohol level is .02 or higher
What Are the Penalties for Drunk Driving in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, if the at-fault driver in a Greenwood DUI accident is a first-time offender, the driver is subject to a $400 fine or time in prison of between 48 hours up to 30 days. Instead of prison time, the judge may order the driver to serve 48 hours of public service work and the driver may have their license suspended for up to six months.
If the accident is the driver’s second violation within a decade, though, the offender faces up to five days to one year in jail and a fine of between $2,100 to $5,100. Instead of jail time, the judge may order the defendant to less than 30 days of public service work and the driver’s license will be suspended for one year.
For the third violation with a 10-year period, the offender will face up to anywhere from 60 days to three years imprisonment and a fine of $3,800 to $6,300. The driver’s license will be suspended for two years, but if the third conviction happened within five years of the first offense, the suspension could be four years.
If the impaired driver commits a fourth or subsequent DUI, the driver will face between one and five years in jail, and the license will be revoked for life, but the offender can apply for reinstatement after seven years.
What About Drunk Drivers in Greenwood Under the Age of 21?
Besides other penalties that apply under our state’s DUI laws, a driver under the age of 21 whose blood alcohol level registered .02 or more at the scene of the accident will have the license suspended for three months for the driver’s first violation or six months if the driver has already been convicted of a DUI within five years.
What About the Dram Shop Act?
Under the Dram Shop Act, an injured third party is permitted to bring a case of negligence against a tavern owner if the establishment served alcohol to an intoxicated adult or driver under 21 and the person’s intoxication caused the incident. In South Carolina, an intoxicated adult driver who suffers injury due to the driver’s own negligence may not bring a dram shop action.
Furthermore, a server at a tavern who knowingly sells alcohol to anybody under the age of 21 faces between 30 and 60 days in prison and a fine of $100 – $200.
Contact a Greenwood DUI Attorney to Discuss Your Case
Anyone hurt in a Greenwood DUI accident should contact the team at Ayers, Smithdeal & Bettis, P.C. to discuss their legal rights and options. Book a consultation today.