Historically South Carolina has had one of the worst rates of drunk driving fatalities in the nation. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), in 2014 there were 335 alcohol-related fatalities in which a driver had a breath alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater. A driver who operates a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and who causes a car accident can be held civilly responsible for the injuries he or she causes to another – even if he or she is under the “legal limit” of .08. This is in addition to any criminal penalties that may be imposed by a criminal court.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol significantly increases the likelihood that a driver will be involved in a motor vehicle accident. This is because alcohol consumption can result in:
- An increase in the amount of time it takes a driver to react to hazards or obstacles;
- A decrease in the driver’s ability to hear and see external stimuli (meaning it is more difficult for the driver to hear a car horn from an approaching vehicle or see the headlights of a vehicle in his or her way);
- A decrease in the driver’s ability to multitask (such as turning a steering wheel while controlling the speed of a vehicle);
- A decrease in the driver’s ability to make sound, rational decisions; and
- An increase in the driver’s willingness to take unnecessary and dangerous risks.
If you or a loved one is involved in a crash wherein you suspect the at-fault driver has consumed too much alcohol, it is important you and/or your attorney act quickly in order to preserve important evidence that can help your case, including the results of any breath- or blood-alcohol tests performed on the at-fault driver.