As personal injury attorneys, located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, we understand that driving offenses can range from mild to severe. Nearly 112,000 people receive speeding tickets every day in the US with over 41,000,000 getting tickets every year. These numbers may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that many of these are minor offenses but can escalate very quickly, especially if someone is driving under the influence. A court fine is much more lenient than the potential harm that may be inflicted on the person under the influence and others. In this article, we will discuss several of the most common traffic offenses in South Carolina, their criteria, and their ramifications.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON DRIVING OFFENSES IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
- Driving on a Suspended License. Nationwide, drivers who have been convicted of driving violations and other offenses may have their driving privileges revoked, in addition to other consequences. When the offense is driving-related, the suspension is intended to provide for safety on the public roads.
- Reckless Driving. The crime of reckless driving occurs whenever someone operates a vehicle in such a way that it poses a risk to others. Unlike some other traffic laws, reckless driving is highly dependent on the circumstances of each individual case.
- Failure to Stop and Render Aid; Hit-and-Run. Hit-and-run laws, also known as “stop-and-give-aid” laws, require drivers who are involved in collisions to stop, provide identification, and give any needed assistance.
- Exhibition of Speed. Ever since the automobile first made its way onto American roadways, cities and states have limited how fast cars could legally travel. Though speed limits are an ever-present limitation whenever you drive, many people are not aware that you can also violate traffic laws by engaging in exhibitions of speed.
- Vehicular Assault. If you injure another person while operating a motor vehicle, in addition to being liable in civil court for the injury and damage you cause, you can also be charged with a crime; the crime is known as vehicular assault. The grounds for a criminal charge of this type vary from state to state, but most commonly occur from causing injury to another.
- Unpaid speeding and parking tickets. Everyone hates tickets, however, if you are ticketed for a driving or parking violation, you need to make sure that you satisfy the penalties. Failing to pay a ticket can result in unpleasant consequences, such as being arrested, spending time in jail, paying additional and expensive fines, and the possibility of a suspended license.
- Racing on the Freeway. This charge is as the name implies, speeding recklessly on the highway, and it is usually for the sake of racing with another vehicle.
Below is an example of racing on the freeway and its tragic results.
The two cars were racing at about 85-90 mph in the southbound lanes when the Challenger attempted to pass (on the right) a car traveling at reasonable speed, according to ABC 7.
The car simultaneously moved to the right to get out of the Challenger’s way, but all this non-straight-line driving flustered the Challenger’s driver, who lost control of his car, crashing into a UPS truck.
The big-rig UPS truck went over the center divider, sheared the roof off a Nissan, killing the two people inside, before landing on a Ford Explorer in the Northbound lanes.
One of the victims killed in the Nissan was identified by her family as 19-year-old Michelle Littlefield. Her family said Littlefield worked at Six Flags Magic Mountain along with her three friends. Littlefield’s family said the group had spent the day at Disneyland and was heading home when the crash occurred.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
All states have laws prohibiting driving under the influence (DUI), also called “DWI” (driving while intoxicated), “OUI” (operating under the influence), and “OWI” (operating while impaired) of drugs and alcohol. In short, do not drive impaired as the life you save may be your own.
Determining intoxication. All DUI laws are aimed at stopping drivers from getting behind the wheel impaired. Law enforcement in every state uses similar tools to enforce DUI laws and identify impairment such as checkpoints, field sobriety tests, breathalyzers, and blood tests.
Drugs and alcohol. DUI laws tend to apply whether the driver’s poor driving was due to alcohol or some other substance. You can and most probably will receive a DUI for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two, even if the drug utilized was over-the-counter or prescription—if the driver was impaired, lawful use is not a defense to DUI charges.
Impairment. DUI laws in every jurisdiction also prohibit driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances. However, impairment DUI laws differ in how they define impairment. In some states, a driver is considered impaired if affected even to the slightest degree by drugs or alcohol. In other states, the alcohol or drugs ingested must have a substantial effect on the motorist to be guilty of DUI.
Penalties. Generally, it is possible to be convicted of a DUI as a misdemeanor or felony. A standard first offense is almost always going to be a misdemeanor. But a DUI offender who kills or seriously injures another person is typically looking at felony charges—even if it is the person’s first offense.
Having prior DUI convictions can also elevate a DUI to a felony. In some states, first and second DUI offenses are misdemeanors but a third or subsequent conviction is a felony. There are also states that make a DUI a felony if the driver had a particularly high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or was transporting children while driving under the influence.
Should you be convicted of a DUI, you could face:
- Prison or jail: It is very common for someone convicted of a DUI to be incarcerated. Misdemeanor charges generally can result in up to a year in jail, while a felony can result in a year or more in the state prison.
- Suspension of License: If you are ultimately convicted of DUI in court, the judge may impose a license suspension. Some states also allow motorists to apply for a “restricted” or “hardship” license to drive to and from places like work or school during the suspension period.
- Dui offense and driver’s license suspension in South Carolina:
- 1st: 6-month suspension
- 1st: Indefinite suspension (with .15% and above)
- 2nd: Indefinite suspension
- 3rd: Indefinite suspension
- Substantial fines: In addition to jail time, a DUI conviction will likely include fines. The amount of the fine can vary significantly, ranging from a few hundred dollars for a first-time misdemeanor up to $10,000 or more for a felony conviction.
- Probation: In many DUI cases, the judge sentences the offender to complete a term of probation. Probation usually lasts one year, but sentences of up to three or more years are possible. While on probation you must abide by a range of court-required arrangements. If you fail to meet these obligations, the court may impose additional penalties. Probation conditions vary such as meeting with a court-appointed probation officer on a consistent basis, having to submit to random drug and alcohol testing, completing a substance abuse program such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and not committing more crimes or DUI offenses.
The auto accident attorneys at Lewis Law Firm wish you a happy and, more importantly, safe holiday season. The holiday season tends to be a more hectic time on the roads as people are driving across the country to see relatives. We encourage you to remain cautious and drive defensively to avoid any potential drivers under the influence. Be responsible during the holidays and avoid becoming “that guy” who took to the road while impaired.
If you or a family member have been convicted of a driving offense, contact the attorneys at Lewis Law Firm. Don’t go it alone.