Archive for the ‘Drunk Driving’ Category

Columbia Drunk Driving Accident Risks a Spring Focus

In 2012, 358 people in the state of South Carolina were killed in motor vehicle collisions involving impaired drivers. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) indicates that this was a 16 percent increase compared with the number of DUI fatalities in 2011. MADD also indicates that South Carolina is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to impaired driving.  

Drunk driving accident lawyers in Columbia, SC represent victims who sustain car accident injuries in collisions with impaired motorists and know the devastation these accidents can cause. It is important to do everything possible to stop motorists from driving while intoxicated and causing serious harm to themselves or others. One way to do that is to develop a better understanding of who is driving drunk so education and enforcement campaigns can be better targeted to at-risk motorists.

Who is Driving While Impaired?

Research has been done to provide insight into which drivers are most likely to operate their vehicles when they are impaired. The Century Council published a report on the rise of female drunk drivers and on the differences between male and female motorists when it comes to intoxication. The report showed:

  • Road research has consistently demonstrated over the years that drunk driving is primarily done by males, but in the past three decades there have been a growing number of women driving drunk. Changes in social norms, changes in female roles and changes in social control mechanisms may all contribute to explaining the rise in impaired female motorists.
  • The number of female DWI arrests has risen on a national level by 28.8 percent between 1998 and 2007.  In 1980, only nine percent of DUI-arrestees were female. By 2004, 20 percent of the individuals arrested were women.
  • The percent of female drunk drivers in fatal collisions was 12 percent in the 1980’s, 13 percent in the 1990s and 14 percent in the 2000’s.
  • The percentage of female drivers who tested positive for any amount of alcohol in fatal collisions was 18 percent in 2005 and 16 percent in 2009.
  • In 2008, 1,837 fatalities in crashes involved an alcohol-impaired female driver.

Women, therefore, are still less likely than men to drive while intoxicated. Among those women who do drive drunk, many have been found to a substantial addiction problem. Women face addiction not only to alcohol but also to sedatives and other drugs.

Knowing that men are the most likely DUI offenders is only part of understanding who drives drunk most often. Politifact also recently looked at the assertion that the majority of drunk-driving deaths and injuries were caused by first-time offenders with no prior record of driving impaired.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving had made this statement, which Politifact declared to be true.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed MADD’s assertion because 93 percent of drivers involved in fatal collisions who have a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher did not have a prior drunk driving conviction in the past three years.

By considering this information about who is most likely to drive drunk and cause accidents, hopefully steps can be taken to educate high-risk drivers and better enforce rules against drunk driving to bring down the number of injuries and deaths.

Contact Columbia injury lawyers at Matthews & Megna LLC by calling 1-803-799-1700. 

SC DUI for DOT Director Highlights Road Risks

Most everyone in the state has been talking about the arrest and subsequent resignation of the secretary of South Carolina’s Department of Transportation amid allegations of drunk driving. 

According to news reports, the 66-year-old official tendered his resignation after being arrested by Lexington County deputies around 8 a.m. after he was spotted allegedly driving erratically. He reportedly failed a field sobriety test. His blood-alcohol content is said to have measured 0.20 percent – more than double the legal limit of 0.08.

While the state official expressed “heartfelt regret” for his actions, at Matthews & Meade, our drunk driving accident lawyers in Columbia, SC have seen so many cases in which offering an apology doesn’t even come close to rectifying the tragedy and heartache caused.

Take for example the recent crash in Conway on Highway 90. According to authorities with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, a 20-year-old driver veered into an oncoming lane of traffic in Horry County around 6:15 on a Sunday morning, striking another vehicle head-on. Inside that vehicle was a 27-year-old restaurant manager and mother of two young children. She died at the scene.

The 20-year-old driver, who was reportedly drunk at the time of the collision, has been booked on felony DUI charges.

Such actions are inexcusable. But that a state official – more than three times this young man’s age and who is responsible for ensuring safety on our roadways – would engage in this conduct is shameful. His resignation was appropriate, despite the fact that no one was hurt prior to his arrest and even though the governor pointed to a long career of valuable public service. He had previously retired from the army as a major general.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were an estimated 10,322 traffic deaths attributed to drunk drivers in 2012. That is, those cases involved at least one driver who had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher.

That accounts for roughly one-third of all traffic deaths annually. It’s even higher here in South Carolina, which ranks as one of the worst states for DUI fatalities. According to the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, there were 358 traffic deaths resulting from drunk drivers in the state in 202, which represented 41 percent of the total. It was also a 16 percent increase from the previous year.

Taxpayer subsidies for drunk driving deaths in South Carolina are estimated to be somewhere around $1.75 billion.

Congress recently reported that more than 22 percent of those between the ages of 12 and 20 reported drinking alcohol in the last month. Thirteen percent reported binge drinking in the last 30 days.

What is especially troubling is that many of those responsible for fatalities in DUI crashes in 2012 had prior driving records. For example, of those found responsible for DUI-related fatalities with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher, 13 percent had reported crashes, 7 percent had prior DUI convictions, 19 percent had speeding convictions and 25 percent had license suspensions or revocations.

All of this would have been known to someone like the state’s DOT director. And yet, he allegedly chose to drive drunk anyway.

Drunk driving victims in Columbia, SC should cal Matthews & Megna today at 877-253-7705 or visit www.matthewsandmegna.com for a free consultation.