Riding a motorcycle comes with inherent risks even when completely sober. Adding alcohol or drugs into the mix makes the dangers of motorcycle riding increase exponentially. South Carolina unfortunately sees a high number of motorcycle accidents that involve intoxicated riders or motorists each year. If you were harmed in a collision, a motorcycle accident lawyer in Charleston can help you fight for fair compensation for your injuries.
Motorcycle Driving Statistics for South Carolina
South Carolina unfortunately has one of the highest rates of motorcycle fatalities in the nation. According to a report published in July 2023 analyzing 2021 data, South Carolina ranked 8th for the number of motorcycle deaths relative to the number of registered bikes in the state.
Specifically, there were 167 motorcyclists killed in South Carolina crashes in 2021. That translates to a rate of 11.2 motorcycle fatalities for every 10,000 registered motorcycle owners in the state.
Nationwide, over 5,600 motorcyclists lost their lives in accidents across the U.S. in 2021. The data shows warmer southern states consistently record higher numbers of motorcycle deaths compared to northern states, with four times as many fatality rates.
Alcohol also remains a major factor, playing a role in 36% of motorcycle crashes nationwide resulting in death. The states of Alaska, Idaho and Rhode Island saw some of the highest numbers of these alcohol-involved fatal motorcycle collisions.
Contributing Factors in Motorcycle Accidents
There are certain situations that commonly lead to motorcycle collisions with drunk drivers. These include:
Failure to Yield Right of Way
One of the most frequent causes of motorcycle vs car crashes involves a driver failing to properly yield to the right of way of the motorcyclist. Impaired drivers often have delayed response times and struggle judging distances and speeds accurately. This makes drunk drivers especially likely to violate a rider’s right of way through actions like:
- Pulling out in front of a motorcycle
- Changing lanes into the path of a motorcycle
- Turning left without properly gauging oncoming traffic
Limited Visibility of Motorcycles
Many car drivers claim they “didn’t see” the motorcycle prior to a collision. Intoxicated drivers are even more likely to have issues properly scanning for and noticing motorcycles sharing the roadway due to lack of focus and awareness.
Hazardous Road Conditions
Inclement weather, poor visibility at night, and other dangerous road conditions become even riskier when combined with drunk driving. An impaired driver loses even more ability to react appropriately to wet roads, fog, dark lighting conditions, and other threats.
Aggressive Driving Behaviors
Drivers who engage in aggressive maneuvers like speeding, tailgating, recklessly changing lanes, and running red lights heighten the chance for accidents with motorcyclists. Mixing this aggressive driving with alcohol or drugs creates an even more dangerous situation for riders.
Consequences for Drunk Drivers in SC Motorcycle Accidents
In South Carolina, causing a collision while driving drunk brings severe criminal repercussions. For a first time drunk driving offense with no injuries or fatalities, consequences include:
- Up to 30 days in jail
- Fines up to $400
- License suspension for 6 months
Harsher punishments result when a drunk driver causes a motorcycle crash resulting in injury or death. South Carolina laws include:
A drunk driver who causes great bodily injury to a motorcyclist (or bicyclist) faces up to 15 years in prison for this felony charge. They also face fines up to $10,100 and mandatory license suspension.
Felony DUI Death
When a drunk driver kills a motorcyclist, they commit the felony offense of Felony DUI Resulting in Death. This charge comes with:
- Imprisonment for up to 25 years
- Fines up to $25,100
- License suspension for the period of incarceration plus 3 years
Wrongful Death Civil Suit
Beyond criminal penalties, the family of a deceased motorcyclist may file a Charleston wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault drunk driver. This civil court claim allows the recovery of additional damages like:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
Protect Your Rights After a Collision
No motorcyclist should have to pay the price for a driver’s choice to operate a vehicle while impaired. After any motorcycle accident with injuries or property damage, make sure to:
- Get immediate medical care even if you don’t feel hurt right away
- Report the crash to police and cooperate with the investigation
- Document the scene with photos and video
- Consult an experienced personal injury lawyer
Having a knowledgeable attorney on your side levels the playing field when going up against insurance companies. An attorney also handles the legal complexities while you focus on recovery.
At Monge & Associates, we have offices in 32 locations across 19 states including South Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona.
Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597. Don’t wait to get help – contact us today.