Drunk driving accidents take the lives of hundreds of people on South Carolina roads each year. No matter how much the state toughens its impaired driving laws, many motorists never seem to heed them.
Even though South Carolina has strict laws and an ample police force, the responsibility to cut down on drunk driving will also fall on you as a driver. You can be the eyes and ears for the police force by reporting suspected drunk drivers. Your actions could very well save the life of an adult or a child.
If you know someone who is about to get behind the wheel drunk, you should firmly speak with them and insist that they do not. It is a very difficult decision whether to report a friend or family member who is driving drunk and one you need to make, weighing all the factors.
How to Spot a Drunk Driver
First, you should know the signs of drunk driving. They can include:
- Swerving in and out of a lane
- Erratic driving
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Running red lights repeatedly
- Straddling lanes
- Traveling well below the speed limit while not driving a straight line
Your first challenge is to avoid becoming a drunk driving casualty yourself. Try to stay as far away as you can from a drunk driver. If possible, you should pull over to the side of the road until the driver passes safely away from you.
Where You Can Call to Report the Driver
The best and quickest way to report a drunk driver is to call the police. In South Carolina, you have two options to report a drunk driver:
- On your cell phone, you can call *HP to report a driver directly to the Highway Patrol
- You can call 911, and your local police department will be alerted about your report
Here, the challenge for you is to give as complete of information about the car as you possibly can. That can be difficult when the motorist is speeding or driving erratically. Nonetheless, police need to know who they are looking for, and more information will make it easier. You should try to provide:
- The make and model of the car
- The location
- The license plate number
When you speak with the dispatcher, you should provide as much detail as you can about what the driver is doing, including any unsafe behaviors. If you are not driving, you can take a picture of the vehicle or cell phone video because that could help the police find the driver and the prosecutor when it comes time to punish the driver.
Do Not Take Matters into Your Own Hands
It is important that you let law enforcement handle and catch the drunk driver. You should not try to stop and detain them on your own. Drunk drivers are often extremely dangerous as their judgment is impaired. Trying to detain them would come at great risk to you. The phone call you make to authorities is already doing enough to save a life.
Obtaining Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with a drunk driver, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. Do not think that criminal prosecution is the only penalty a drunk driver would face. You still are entitled to damages of your own, regardless of the drunk driver’s legal status.
If the drunk driver pleads guilty to the crime, it would be an automatic admission in your civil case that would be evidence of negligence. Often, the drunk driver would plead no contest so as not to admit fault in a civil lawsuit.
You would not need to prove your case to the same high standard that the prosecutor would to win a conviction. You have a lower burden of proof in a civil case, needing to prove the drunk driver’s responsibility for your injuries by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, you need to show that it was more likely that the motorist did something that could cause your injuries.
How a Car Accident Attorney Will Help Your Case
In a drunk driving civil case, liability is not often contested. An insurance company has better fights to pick than denying a claim outright when their driver was intoxicated. Instead, the insurance company will try to under-compensate you for the injuries that you have suffered.
Even though they do not want to be in front of a jury when their policyholder has done something seriously wrong, they will push it as far as they can in compensation negotiation. You would still need an attorney to do the following on your behalf:
- Place a monetary value on your case, so you know how much to seek in settlement negotiations
- Assess and respond to any settlement offer that the insurance company makes
You still need to focus on maximizing your financial recovery, regardless of how the accident happened.
Call a Greenville Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one have been injured in a drunk driving accident, Dan Pruitt Injury Law can help. We will fight for your legal rights and interests and work to get you the highest possible payment for your injuries. Call us today at (864) 280-7660 or message us online to begin the legal process in your case.
Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
Can I get punitive damages for my drunk driving accident?
An insurance company will not pay punitive damages, but there is a chance that the jury may award them.
What if the drunk driver did not stop?
You can file a claim against your own auto insurance policy because you hopefully have uninsured motorist coverage.
How long will my drunk driving civil case take?
It depends on many factors, including whether you have to take the case to court.