• Andrew Littlejohn Johnson

South Carolina Drunk Driving Wreck Laws

When a drunk driver causes a wreck with you in South Carolina, it is important to understand what laws that person broke. Whether is the Upstate, Midlands, or Low-Country, evaluating South Carolina's civil DUI laws will help protect you and other Palmetto State drivers.


DUI Car Accidents - Generally


South Carolina has a criminal code and a civil code. These statutes differ in the ways they are applied. Civil statutes are what we focus on in our South Carolina personal injury law firm.


In cases we handle, we look at the at-fault-driver's actions to determine (1) liability and (2) punitive damages. Determining liability allows us to tell the jury/adjuster how the drunk driver owed our client a duty and, thereafter, breached that duty. For example, drivers owe a duty to other drivers not to drive at an unreasonable speed. Generally, if the at-fault-driver speeds and causes a wreck with you because of his/her speed, this is the liability portion.


Second, the punitive portion is designed to punish the at-fault-driver. South Carolina courts have defined these punitive damages as punishment for reckless or wanton behavior. One of the most reckless actions a driver can take is to drive drunk.


Therefore, if we can show that the defendant driver drove intoxicated, this allows us to explore punitive options. If the jury awards punitive damages, jurors are saying, "We punish you, the defendant, $x.xx for your reckless actions. And because the plaintiff is the injured party here, we give the plaintiff that money." Additionally, these reckless actions and punitive awards can bleed into a dram shop case, which create additional layers of recovery for our clients.



South Carolina DUI Car Wreck Laws


The below laws work in unison with one-another. Each plays a role in our punitive damages cases.


  • S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2933(A): "It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while his alcohol concentration is eight one-hundredths of one percent or more."


  • Austin v. Specialty Transp. Servs., Inc., 358 S.C. 298, 314-15, 594 S.E.2d 867, 875 (Ct. App. 2004):The causative violation of a statute constitutes negligence per se and is evidence of recklessness and willfulness, requiring the submission of the issue of punitive damages to the jury.”


  • Field v. Gregory, 230 S.C. 39, 46, 94 S.E.2d 15, 19 (1956):Causative violation of an applicable statute constitutes actionable negligence and is evidence of recklessness, willfulness[,] and wantonness.”


Experienced South Carolina DUI Wreck Attorney


Knowing how to piece the law, court cases, and facts together is crucial in recovering punitive damages. If you are unrepresented and have questions or wish simply to speak with our attorney Andrew Littlejohn Johnson, email or call him today. The call is free and confidential, and we look forward to helping you.