South Carolina has very strict laws on drunk driving.
Myrtle Beach, SC – South Carolina is 23rd in population, somewhere in the middle, yet when it comes to drunk driving it ranks 10th for traffic fatalities related to DUI crashes. In 2020, South Carolina had a 14% increase in alcohol-related deaths, rising from 276 fatalities in 2019 to 315.
Although full figures for 2021 have not yet been released, preliminary data shows that the number of traffic fatalities is at an all-time high.
“The whole nation suffered terribly from drunk driving crashes in 2020. In South Carolina, we basically went from especially bad to especially worse,” according to Steven Burritt, regional director for North and South Carolina with the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Organization (MADD).
If you or a loved one were recently involved in a crash caused by alcohol or drug consumption, you need to talk to experienced Myrtle Beach DUI accident lawyers to see how you can recover damages.
What is the difference between DUAC and DUI in South Carolina?
South Carolina has very strict laws on drunk driving. The state has two types of drunk driving offenses.
- DUAC (driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration) – A driver can be charged with DUAC if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above .08 even if they seem perfectly capable to drive and were not involved in an accident.
- DUI (driving under the influence) – A driver can be charged with DUI if their capacity to drive is impaired. In this case, the prosecution will have to prove the driver was in no condition to drive. This is usually based on the observations of the police officer who operated the arrest.
If you are in an accident and the other driver appears to be drunk, make sure to call the police right away. In the meantime, take pictures of the crash scene and talk to eyewitnesses. Ask them if the conduct of the other driver appears erratic to them, and point out their slurred speech or their unsteady movements. Don’t forget to get their names and contact info, as their testimonies could be very useful when you file a personal injury claim or you sue the drunk driver.
Also, get the name of the police officer and the department where you can find them. You will need the police report and the result of the breathalyzer test. Even if the driver’s BAC is lower than .08 but higher than .05, they can still be charged with DUI if they fail a sobriety test or if the officer considers their driving ability was impaired.
Who can you sue for a DUI accident in South Carolina?
South Carolina is an at-fault state so you will have to file a personal injury claim with the other driver’s insurance company. However, you are limited to the coverage they have. If they have minimum coverage, you may recover up to $25,000. If you have sustained severe injuries and your medical bills alone top $100,000, your lawyers will probably advise you to sue the other driver.
At the same time, you can use South Carolina’s Dram Shop law to sue the establishment where the driver got drunk. Unlike other states, the Dram Shop law in South Carolina is very generous. You and your lawyer only have to prove that the bar was 1% at fault for the subsequent accident and you can hold them financially accountable.
To do that, your lawyers may need to investigate the whereabouts of the driver before the crash. They may use phone records, witness testimonies, surveillance camera footage, etc to prove that the driver had been in a certain bar and they sold him alcohol. Establishments that are licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on their premises must carry at least $1 million in liability insurance, and that may be enough to cover your damages.
You may also use the social host laws, which in South Carolina apply both to minors and adults. A private host can be held accountable if they encouraged someone to drink, saw they were intoxicated, and did not prevent them from getting into their car.
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