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Understanding Alcohol-Related Car Accidents

According to the Traffic Safety Facts report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), every single day, approximately 28 individuals are killed in drunk-driving or alcohol-related car accidents in the U.S. That’s one every 52 minutes. Drunk-driving accidents claimed the lives of 10,142 individuals in 2019. All these deaths were, sadly, preventable. Alcohol impairment can play a large role in increasing the severity of the injuries and an accident.

The Impact of Alcohol on Driving Ability

Alcohol dramatically reduces brain function, thinking, muscle coordination, and reasoning. These are all very important driving safely.

The alcohol level in a person’s body, known as blood alcohol concentration or BAC, is measured through the alcohol’s weight in a particular volume of blood. The risk of drunk drivers getting into an accident increases greatly with the amount of alcohol they consume. But even lower BAC levels could negatively impact driving ability. BAC levels can be measured through a blood test or by using a Breathalyzer, which is a device that can measure the alcohol level in a drunk driver’s breath.

Higher BAC Levels Equal Riskier and More Dangerous Driving

Many factors impact intoxication, including body mass, gender, lack of sleep, and general health, among others. This means that a person may be too drunk or impaired to drive safely, even if they’ve only had a drink or two. But based on common alcohol drinks, a BAC level could be generally calculated based on the number of alcoholic beverages a person has.

.02% BAC or approximately two drinks

  • Some loss of reason or judgment
  • Reduced visual function, such as tracking an object in motion
  • Reduced ability to multitask or increased distractibility

.05% BAC or approximately three drinks

  • Reduced alertness
  • Impaired judgment
  • Difficulty steering
  • Reduced coordination
  • Slower response to emergency situations

.08% BAC or approximately four drinks

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Significantly impaired reasoning and judgment
  • Impaired perception
  • Poor speed control
  • Impaired processing ability, such as determining traffic signals

.10% BAC or approximately five drinks

  • Prolonged reaction and processing time
  • Reduced ability to control the vehicle
  • Slower braking response times

.15% BAC or approximately seven drinks

  • Significantly impaired muscle control
  • Major balance issues
  • Significant impairment in all driving tasks and necessary auditory and visual processing
  • Vomiting

Recovering Compensation for an Alcohol-Related Car Accident

If you or a family member were in a car accident where the at-fault driver was drunk, you may qualify for compensation for your injuries. In South Carolina, drivers should have liability coverage and uninsured motorist insurance with the minimum limits:

  • Bodily injury of $50,000 per accident
  • Bodily injury of $25,000 per individual
  • Property damage of $25,000 per accident

Bodily injury coverage protects the policyholder against claims from other people hurt in a motor vehicle accident that the policyholder caused. Property damage coverage covers any damage to other people’s property that the policyholder caused. Besides motor vehicles, property could also include equipment, fences, walls, and buildings, etc. On the other hand, uninsured motorist insurance covers the policyholder directly. For example, you can use your uninsured motorist coverage if you get hurt and/or your car was damaged in a hit-and-run accident or if the driver was uninsured.

Learn How Our Experienced South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

If you or a loved one are suffering injuries because of a drunk driver’s careless actions, contact Jeffcoat Injury and Car Accident Lawyers for a free case review. Our  car accident lawyers in South Carolina will evaluate your case, and let you know the best way to move forward. Contact us by phone at 803-200-2000 or fill out our online form to set up your free case review today.

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Car Accident FAQs


What is The Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims in South Carolina?

Whether you are filing a claim to recover compensation for property damage, injury, or wrongful death that resulted from a car accident, South Carolina law provides claimants up to three years to request the court for a legal remedy but in some circumstances the time limit could be just two years. This means that you should file your claim or lawsuit within either two or three years of the date of the accident or the court will probably refuse to hear your case. Don’t delay!

Do I Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?

If you have injuries from a car accident speaking with an experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer to evaluate your case may help put maximum compensation into your hands.

Should I Talk to the Insurance Claims Representative of the At-fault Party’s Insurance Provider?

Whenever possible, always refer calls from the at-fault person’s insurance adjuster to your lawyer. In many cases, the at-fault person’s insurance provider is either looking to get you to agree to a fast and low settlement amount or setting the stage for getting you to a lower payout down the road. This means less money in your pocket. Insurance adjusters often try to get injured people to settle before they’ve even had a chance to heal from their injuries or speak to a lawyer. Until you’ve discussed your case with a lawyer, avoid talking to the insurance adjuster about fault for the accident or your injuries and don’t sign anything.


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