A single-vehicle accident in Darlington County, South Carolina (SC), on the night of March 14, 2015, proved fatal for a passenger and brought felony criminal charges for the driver. The fatal wreck, which occurred near Hartsville, involved a pickup truck running off the right-hand, westbound side of the two-lane rural highway and crashing into a utility pole. The force of the impact ejected the deceased from the truck. State police determined that the man behind the wheel of the truck, who apparently did not suffer injuries, had been driving while intoxicated and transporting an open container of beer or wine.
The day of the accident was also the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day. While it may seem tempting to jump to the conclusion that the deadly crash highlights the general risks of driving drunk, the tragedy points even more specifically to the reality that the people intoxicated drivers often put most at risk are the friends and family members in their passenger seats. Reminders to drink responsibility, designate a driver, take a cab or just stay home resonate every holiday, from Christmas and New Year's Eve to Cinco de Mayo and Fourth of July. The two-part lifesaving lesson to never accept a ride from a drunk drive and never to take the wheel after partying need to be heeded every day.
My Carolina person injury and wrongful death attorney colleagues and I hear almost daily of new DUI accident cases in which a parent, friend or spouse has crashed while drunk and left a loved one permanently disabled or dead. The tragedies never fail to move us because each and every accident could have been avoided if the at-fault driver had made a responsible decision to set down his or her keys. Our one hope is that growing numbers of people will reach the same realization and keep a pledge to not drive drunk.