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South Carolina's move to free-pour has not reduced drunk driving

In 2006, South Carolina passed free-pour legislation lightening up on the procedure followed by bars serving hard liquor. Some thought this would lead to a decrease not only in alcohol-related fatal accidents, but also in drunk driving. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. Numerous drivers are still facing drunk driving charges and, although the number of fatal accidents has decreased, the percentage of alcohol-related fatalities remains constant.

Before South Carolina became a free-pour state, bartenders in the state were required to pour drinks out of the mini bottles that are often associated with traveling by airplane. This was a state requirement for 22 years. However, for approximately seven years now, bartenders have been able to pour from regular-sized liquor bottles.

Although the state's liquor sales have risen since the passage of this legislation in 2006, some of the other expected benefits have not come to fruition. It was thought that there would be a decrease in drunk driving and an increase in funding for alcohol treatment coming from the liquor tax. Neither of these expectations has materialized in the past seven years.

The state is likely trying to decrease the occurrence of drunk driving not only because it endangers its citizens, but also because being charged with a crime, or convicted of one, comes with serious penalties. No one wants to face penalties like these and the state is doing what it can to help prevent this occurrence for its residents.

DUI offenses are often harmful to the accused driver's reputation no matter whether they are convicted. However, convictions come with even more severe penalties. In South Carolina, a DUI conviction usually means an automatic license suspension. Depending upon the defendant's history of drunk driving, this suspension can quickly turn into a revocation.

It is always important for those facing drunk driving charges to take the situation very seriously. A good step after initially being charged is to contact an experienced DUI defense attorney in South Carolina. He or she will help the defendant through this rough time and negotiate as beneficial an outcome as possible.

Source: The Republic, "Report: SC's switch from mini bottles hasn't reduced drunken driving, increased treatment funds," April 21, 2013

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