In South Carolina, if you are arrested for a suspected DUI, you are legally obligated to take a blood, breath, or urine test if requested by law enforcement officials. This wasn’t the case for Richland County Councilman Kelvin Washington, who reportedly wouldn’t give a blood sample when he failed multiple sobriety tests after a car accident near Columbia’s Bluff Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard.
According to News19, Washington is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, after he plowed into the back of another vehicle last Saturday evening. The 51-year-old Councilman, as well as driver and passenger of the hit vehicle were transported to Palmetto Health Richland’s emergency room for medical treatment. Officers on the scene of the accident say that Washington confessed to having one beer at a friend’s home earlier in the evening. A state trooper on the scene wrote in his report that he smelled alcohol on the suspect’s breath at the hospital and smelled alcohol at the crash scene as well.
Richland County councilman faces felony DUI charges
Jail records show that Kelvin Washington has been charged with felony DUI/great bodily injury. According to state troopers, at roughly 7:45 p.m., Washington slammed into the back of another vehicle as the driver was slowing down. Both passengers in the hit vehicle suffered injuries and were taken to the hospital. The driver of the hit vehicle, who was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, suffered a severe head injury that required surgery. The passenger’s injuries were minor in nature.
Washington was forced to provide a blood sample after authorities got a search warrant, according to the accident report. He was later taken to the Richland County Jail after being released by the hospital. He was released after posting a $25,000 bond.
South Carolina’s Implied Consent laws
Because the Councilman had “multiple indicators of impairment” at the time of the accident, law enforcement had the legal right to ask for breath, urine or blood test to confirm use of alcohol, drugs or a combination of controlled substances. Pursuant to South Carolina policies, a breath test must be performed within two hours of the arrest. Additional blood or urine sample must be collected within three hours of the arrest.
Once a DUI arrest has been made, the officer must turn on a video camera to record the test, outline your rights and the associated penalties for refusing, and provide written notice of these rights and potential fines. A refusal to provide a blood or breath test, usually results in automatic license suspension, from six months to one year, depending on prior convictions.
Drunk driving accident liability
Victims of drunk drivers or drivers impaired by drugs are often saddled with massive medical bills, lost income, and perhaps even the loss of a loved one. In addition to the negligent driver in question, bars, restaurants and other establishments that knowingly sold liquor to an already intoxicated driver may be held liable for property damage, injuries and associated financial losses.
Fortunately, South Carolina affords legal rights to those who have been affected by negligent or drunk drivers. A personal injury lawsuit can seek damages for all medical costs related to the accident, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and diminished earning capacity.
In the wake of a DUI accident, your future depends on what you do today, which is why it pays to have a skilled car accident attorney on your side. Learn more about your options for financial compensation by calling The Jeffcoat Firm at (803) 200-2000 for a free case review.