Holidays and Drunk Driving Accidents in Columbia, SC

During the holiday season, many Americans take time out of their busy schedules to get together with family and friends. Nearly 100 million of us will travel out of town during this season to visit loved ones, and most will travel by car. This makes the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s the busiest travel time of the year.

Amidst all the holiday celebrations, there is also a lot of alcohol that is consumed. This means that, along with the increased traffic due to travelers, there are more drunk drivers on the road. Drunk driving arrests spike on Thanksgiving Eve, and they are much higher than average on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve as well.

DUI accidents are responsible for approximately 10,000 fatalities throughout the year. And not surprisingly, a large percentage of these fatalities occur during the holiday season. Just during the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve alone, there are approximately 300 deaths that are caused by alcohol-related crashes. It is also estimated that drunk drivers play a role in roughly 2 out of every 5 traffic-related deaths during this time of the year.

How to Stay Safe during the Holiday Season

With all the busyness associated with this time of year, it is important for us to take a step back, plan ahead, and do our part to keep the roadways safer for ourselves and everyone else. Here are some steps we can take to help ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday season:

Pick the Safest Times to be Out on the Roads

There are certain times when it is more dangerous to be out driving. We have already discussed the higher number of DUIs on various nights like Thanksgiving Eve, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and this is true of nights in general as well. 30% of fatal accidents that occur at night involve an intoxicated driver, while only 9% of fatal accidents during daytime hours are DUI-related. If possible, do most of your traveling, shopping, etc. during the day.

Recognize the Signs of a Drunk Driver

Most people will need to do some of their driving at night during the holidays, whether going out to dinner, to a holiday party, or another function. When you are out at night, keep in mind that you may be sharing the road with some intoxicated drivers, and be able to recognize some of the signs. These may include:

  • Weaving in and out of lanes;
  • Hitting the break or accelerating erratically without any reason;
  • Running red lights and stop signs;
  • Making sharp, dangerous, and/or illegal turns;
  • Following other vehicles too closely/tailgating;
  • Driving the wrong way.

If you notice any of these or other signs of drunk driving, keep your distance from these vehicles and report them to the police.

If you Plan to Drink, Make a Plan to Get Home Safely

Most people do not plan to drink and drive, but sometimes, they find themselves in a circumstance where the temptation to do so is overwhelming. To prevent this from happening, always have a plan to get home safely if you are out somewhere and you know that you might be drinking. Bring a designated driver along who will commit to staying sober or have someone standing by who you can call for a ride if you have had too much to drink. If neither of these options are available, plan to call a cab or Uber/Lyft, or reserve a room nearby where you can crash and spend the night.

Make Sure your Teens Stay Safe as Well

If you have teenage kids, it is your responsibility to ensure that they will be safe during the holidays. Speak with your teens about what they will be doing when they go out. Find out where they are going, who they are going to be with, and how they plan on getting home safely if they end up drinking. This may be a difficult conversation to have, but it is also very important that you and your teen are on the same page and that safety is your number one priority.

Injured in DUI Accident in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Attorney

In spite of our best efforts, we cannot control the negligent or reckless actions of others. If you or someone close to you has been injured at the hands of a drunk driver, you deserve to be fully compensated. If the accident occurred in South Carolina, contact Peake & Fowler for assistance. Call our office today at 803-788-4370 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.

When Bar Owners Are Liable for Drunk Driving Accidents

We are naturally outraged at automobile accidents caused by drunk drivers, and most of our anger may rightfully be directed at the person who chose to drink and then get behind a wheel. But what about the liquor store, bar or restaurant which provided the alcohol? Are there ever any circumstances when these establishments deserve our anger and outrage as well? And are there any situations where the law holds these establishments liable to compensate the persons injured by the drunk driver? It turns out that there are.

Section 61-6-2220 of the South Carolina Code (the “Dram Shop” law) prohibits selling alcohol to persons who are in “an intoxicated condition.” While we all would agree that it is the moral responsibility of an individual to know “when to say when” and to make the smart choice not to drive under the influence, we also know that the judgment of a person under the influence is impaired. In South Carolina, it is the legal responsibility of a bar or other establishment licensed to sell alcohol to refuse to sell or serve an intoxicated person.

What about compensation for a person injured by a drunk driver, or a person assaulted by a drunk patron at the bar? South Carolina’s dram shop law places a duty on the bar owner not to serve an intoxicated person. Arguably, the reason for this law is that it is foreseeable that an overly intoxicated person could cause a car accident or other injury to himself or others. Violation of the dram shop law, then, is a breach of duty of care owed to other persons, and the bar owner can be liable for injuries which resulted from a breach of that duty.

It would still be necessary for the injured plaintiff to prove all the facts of the case in order to hold the bar owner liable. A crucial question in these cases is often whether the employees at the bar actually knew or should have known they were serving an intoxicated person. An experienced personal injury attorney can be critical in establishing the facts of the case necessary to hold the bar owner liable for the damages caused.

At Peake & Fowler, we understand that there may be other factors involved in an automobile accident besides the negligence of the other driver, such as a product defect in the automobile or the liability of an irresponsible bar owner who unlawfully served an intoxicated patron. Our attorneys thoroughly investigate all of the facts surrounding the accident to hold all responsible parties accountable for their negligent, reckless or illegal behavior. In Columbia, call on Peake & Fowler for assistance with an auto accident personal injury claim.