Today your Charleston negligence attorney took note of an article coming from the South Carolina Upstate in which a Greenville man was sentenced after pleading guilty to felony driving under the influence in connection to a fatal car accident. The accident occurred back in January 2011 when the 34-year-old man drove his wife’s SUV off the side of a road in Cleveland, SC–located about 20 miles from Greenville, SC. The Travelers Rest Tribune reported that after driving off the road the man proceeded down a steep embankment and struck several trees, causing serious injury to passenger. Once the vehicle came to a stop, the man fled the scene leaving the vehicle’s passenger still buckled in his seat. A passing motorist noticed the wrecked vehicle and had the good sense to dial 911, but, unfortunately, the passenger in the SUV was found deceased upon the arrival of EMS.
The man’s departure from the scene of the accident reportedly led emergency personnel to believe the driver of the vehicle had been ejected from the SUV. Subsequent investigation by troopers of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, however, found that the crashed vehicle was registered to the driver’s wife. An open container of beer and milk jug smelling strongly of some undisclosed type of alcohol were found inside the wrecked SUV. According to reports, an unidentified man came to the scene of the drunk driving accident and informed authorities that the driver-in-question had approached him earlier at his home, and solicited a ride to his own.
Authorities were able to apprehend the drunk driver after his wife brought him back to the scene of the accident. Authorities took note of the smell of alcohol about his person, and scrapes on his face, according to The Travelers Rest Tribune, prior to the man admitting he was the driver of the crashed SUV. The man was transported by EMS to a local emergency room, where a blood sample revealed marijuana metabolites and a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.111–well in excess of the legal limit of 0.08.
The 34-year-old driver pleaded guilty to felony driving under influence and leaving the scene of an accident involving, and has been sentenced to serve concurrent sentences of twenty-five years. And will have to serve at least twelve years of his sentence before being eligible for parole. Reports did not indicate if a criminal defense attorney represented the Greenville man. As an aside, your Charleston, SC lawyers took note that this driver’s age and gender lends credibility to the statistical findings of a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, which indicates certain groups are more likely to drink and drive. Men account for 81% of drinking and driving episodes, and while young men (ages 21-34) make up only 11% of the U.S. population, they are responsible for 32% of all instances of drinking and driving.
From a civil standpoint the estate of victim in this drunk driving accident could decide to pursue a wrongful death action against the driver. Victims in drunk driving accidents, or their families, may be entitled to certain damages under the law, including, but not limited to, past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, medical bills and the like. Damages just noted are considered compensatory damages and are intended to restore the injured party to where he/she would have been had the injury, or tort not occurred. But in cases involving reckless conduct, such as drunk driving accidents, injured parties may move to recover punitive damages, which are penalizing damages designed to punish the tortfeasor for his/her action, as well as deter future wrongdoing.