According to a report by the consumer review company, SafeWise, South Carolina is ranked second in the nation for drunk driving fatalities. In 2017, South Carolina reported over six deaths for each 100,000 residents in the state. Only Wyoming had a higher number with a little over seven deaths per 100,000 residents. New Jersey ranked lowest in the nation with only one death reported for every 100,000 residents.
In 2016, South Carolina was ranked sixth in the country for drunk driving deaths with a reported 336 fatalities from drunk driving wrecks. In just one year’s time, the state climbed from a ranking of sixth place to second place in the nation. New Jersey ranks the lowest in drunk driving deaths with a total of 1.38 deaths per 100,000 residents.
Penalties for Drunk Driving in South Carolina
Many question why South Carolina is having so much difficulty reducing the number of drunk driving deaths each year. One clear indication for the cause points to the penalties imposed for drunk driving in the state. Compared to other states with the lowest number of fatalities, South Carolina’s laws and penalties for DUI may not be enforced as stringently.
According to a study conducted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), South Carolina has the most lenient laws against drunk drivers in the country. A spokesperson for MADD claimed that South Carolina court systems are too lenient with handing out convictions for drunk driving. Arresting police officers are required to appear in court and battle with the defense attorney to validate their charges while supplying their own evidence.
The arresting officer can use dashcam video to support their charge, but many times this evidence is thrown out if there is any type of problem with the video footage, such as blurriness, which is common when the video is taken at night. Enforcement of Emma’s Law is also lax, according to the MADD study. Drivers convicted of a first offense DUI should be required to install an interlock device on their cars, but few are made to do so. The device would prevent a person from starting their car if alcohol is detected on an installed breathalyzer.
In comparison, New Jersey has the lowest number of drunk driving deaths in the country and some of the strongest enforcement of DUI laws. Fines for first time offenders range between $250 to $400, require a minimum of 12 hours to three months in jail, loss of driving privilege for three months, an annual surcharge of $1,000 on car insurance for three years, and other fees that can exceed $525.
Second and third time offenders in New Jersey face even harsher penalties. A second DUI charge in New Jersey results in loss of license for two years, 30 days of community service, up to 90 days in prison, 48 hours of instruction at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, up to $1,500 fine, and $3,000 mandatory surcharge on car insurance. Third time offenders in New Jersey will serve 180 days in prison, 30 days of community service, ten-year loss of driving license, and a surcharge of $5,000 on their car insurance.
Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Represent Victims Injured in Drunk Driving Wrecks
If you have been injured in a car accident with a drunk driver, call the Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. at 803-929-3600, or 866-881-8623, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Columbia, South Carolina offices serve clients throughout the state.
We represent clients in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.