Every day, thousands of people decide to drive after consuming alcohol. It's a dangerous and reckless act that can have serious consequences, and in South Carolina, the statistics are even more sobering. This alarming trend impacts our communities and puts innocent people at risk.
While the state has taken active measures to reduce drunk driving rates, the numbers remain high. Notwithstanding, it is necessary that you understand the DUI statistics in South Carolina so that you can make informed decisions about your safety and the safety of others. Our experienced DUI attorneys in Greenville are here to help you!
Call Touma Law Group today at 864-618-2323 to receive a free consultation from our dedicated criminal defense lawyer, Adam Touma!
SC DUI Laws
South Carolina law enforcement takes driving under the influence very seriously. Its drunk driving law strictly prohibits operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, to the extent that it impairs your ability to drive. If your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) surpasses 0.08 percent, it will be assumed you were driving under the influence. Even with a blood alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.08 percent, other evidence may be used to infer that you were driving while intoxicated.
In South Carolina, alcohol-impaired drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than those who drive sober, so it is important to understand the effects of alcohol and your Blood Alcohol Concentration in order to avoid a drunk driving situation.
Negative Consequences of DUI
If convicted of DUI/DWI (Driving Under the Influence/Driving While Intoxicated), the legal consequences of alcohol consumption can be harsh and far-reaching. Depending on your individual circumstances, penalties could include a suspended or revoked license, hefty fines, mandatory installation of an interlock device, or even jail time. In particular, a drunk driving conviction may result in the following:
- A typical penalty for a first-time offense of this nature could include a substantial fine of up to $400 in addition to surcharges and assessments, potentially amounting to over $900. Furthermore, those convicted may face anywhere from two days to one month behind bars and an automatic six-month suspension of their driver's license.
- A penalty of up to $5,100 ($10,744.50 with related charges) and imprisonment for five days to a year, as well as a one-year suspension of your license, could be imposed for a second-time DUI offender.
- For a third offense, you could face a fine of between $3,800 and $6,300 (including assessments and surcharges), a minimum of 60 days up to a maximum of 3 years in prison, and your driver's license will be suspended for two years. If the third offense happened within five years of the first, your license will be suspended for four years. Additionally, if the third or subsequent offense occurs within 10 years of the first offense, the vehicle used can be confiscated if you are the owner or a resident in the owner's household.
- Jail time for up to 5 years and the permanent loss of your driver's license if you are convicted of a fourth or subsequent violation
Moreover, South Carolina has a "zero tolerance" policy for minors under the age of 21. Any minor caught driving with a BAC between 0.02% and 0.08% will be subject to steep fines and other punishments. Therefore, it is important to take the necessary precautions and always designate a sober driver on any night where alcohol is involved.
How Prevalent Are DUI Accidents in South Carolina?
Unfortunately, DUI accidents are all too common in South Carolina. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), South Carolina has seen a 16% increase in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities since 2018. In 2019 alone, there were 477 deaths attributed to intoxicated drivers.
According to the National Drunk Driving Statistics Map, there were 285 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2019, and 1,024,508 DUI arrests during that same period. These tragic figures demonstrate how dangerous drunk driving can be for both individual drivers and society as a whole.
In 2020, the NHTSA released new figures indicating that alcohol-related fatalities increased by 14% across the United States between 2019 and 2020, while the number of vehicle miles driven decreased by 11%. South Carolina experienced a similar trend, with alcohol-related deaths rising from 285 to 315 over the same period.
Moreover, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), South Carolina ranks as one of the highest number of drunk driving fatalities in the US. This is an alarming statistic that shows the fatality rate and how serious the drunk driving issue has become in our state.
Where Do DUI Accidents Happen the Most in SC?
In South Carolina, the majority of DUI accidents occur in urban and suburban areas. According to GHSA, these areas account for over 75% of all DUI fatalities in the state. Moreover, Charleston County leads the way with an average of 10 DUI deaths per year. This is followed by Greenville County with an average of 8 deaths per year.
Furthermore, studies conducted have found that rural areas are particularly dangerous when it comes to DUI accidents. This is due to higher speed limits paired with impaired drivers. As such, driving through rural areas requires extra caution and vigilance. In addition, data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reveals that men are more likely to be involved in DUI incidents than women.
When Do DUI Accidents Happen Most Often in SC?
In South Carolina, the majority of DUI accidents happen on weekends. According to a study by GHSA, 57% of all DUI fatalities occur between Friday and Sunday. Additionally, nearly half (48%) of all DUI deaths in the state occur late at night between 8 pm and 4 am. This is due to drunk drivers being on the road during these high-traffic periods.
The devastating news of the extreme consequences of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes can be seen during holiday parties, where a high percentage of people are consuming alcohol and risking felony offenses.
Furthermore, summer months see a spike in DUI fatalities due to more people being out on the roads for extended periods of time. This is especially true around major holiday seasons such as Memorial Day and Independence Day.
DUI Statistics in South Carolina - 2022
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety is currently collecting data and compiling reports on DUI accidents in 2021. Looking into 2022, they expect a decline in DUI fatalities due to the implementation of stricter laws and increased awareness campaigns. As such, it is important that drivers take extra care when driving after drinking or anytime they are out on the roads late at night.
It is important to note that DUI fatalities are preventable, and we all have a part to play in reducing the number of these tragic accidents. It is highly recommended everyone exercise caution when driving and always designate a sober driver if they plan on drinking.
Drunk Driving Deaths Per Year
According to the National Drunk Driving Statistics Map, there were 285 DUI fatalities in 2019. This number is unacceptable and shows that we still have a long way to go when it comes to reducing drunk driving deaths in our state.
In 2020, this number increased slightly with 315 DUI fatalities reported by the end of the year. Though, as mentioned earlier, it is expected that this number will decrease in 2021 and beyond due to stricter DUI enforcement and increased awareness or education campaigns.
Unfortunately, in 2021, it was reported that there were over 1,000 fatal crashes in South Carolina. While the reasons for these crashes are not known, it is likely that drunk driving prevalence was a significant factor in many of them.
In 2022, of the total traffic fatalities 1, 037 were witnessed in SC, and 335 were attributed to alcohol impairment or drunk driving accidents.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that far too many lives are being lost due to drunk driving each year. And there is an urgent need to continue to spread awareness and encourage drivers to be responsible on the roads.
Contact Touma Law Group Today for Any DUI Questions
We understand that the DUI law in South Carolina can be complicated, so it is important to stay informed. We urge everyone to familiarize themselves with current DUI laws and regulations in order to make sure you are not putting yourself or others at risk of danger. Together, we can make the road safer for everyone.
If you have been charged with a DUI in South Carolina, it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible at 864-618-2323. At Touma Law Group, we are committed to providing our clients with the best legal representation and getting them the outcome they deserve. Our experienced attorneys will work hard to protect your rights and ensure justice is served.