Anyone accused of a driving under the influence (DUI) offense in South Carolina will face significant consequences if they plead guilty or get convicted. Jail time, license suspension and large fines are all possible because of the DUI charge.
Frequently, a basic drunk charge will only lead to misdemeanor charges. However, there are situations in which the state will charge someone with a felony for getting behind the wheel after drinking. Pedestrian collisions involving drunk drivers very often lead to felony charges for the person at the wheel. Why are the charges more serious when a drunk driver collides with a pedestrian?
Pedestrian crashes tend to be quite severe
Unless the collision occurs in a parking lot while the driver maintains a very low speed, the possibility of catastrophic injuries or death is why many pedestrian crashes involving alcohol lead to felony charges. When a motor vehicle collides with a pedestrian, the result is often tragic. Especially when there are high speeds involved, the pedestrian is likely to have major injuries, which may prove fatal.
Both serious bodily injury and fatalities are grounds for enhanced DUI charges under South Carolina law. There is a strong relationship between alcohol consumption before driving and striking a pedestrian. According to an analysis of nationwide crash data from 2019, alcohol is one of the top contributing factors to fatal pedestrian crashes. In 13% of the fatal pedestrian collisions in 2019, the driver of the vehicle was over the legal limit for alcohol.
Police sometimes blame drivers when the pedestrian is at fault
If someone steps out in front of your vehicle on a road with a high speed limit, you may not have had time to respond safely to their unexpected presence on the road. Especially when pedestrians are on the street after dark and when they are also under the influence of alcohol or distracted by a mobile phone, they could technically be to blame for the collision that occurred.
Showing that you didn’t cause the crash but rather couldn’t prevent it after something the pedestrian did or raising questions about the so-called evidence that you were under the influence are both possible strategies for defending yourself. Learning about what may affect the charges and penalties involved when facing felony DUI allegations can help drivers protect themselves from life-altering penalties.