Reckless Driving in South Carolina
Driving Recklessly Is a Criminal Offense in South Carolina
According to South Carolina law, reckless driving is usually charged as a criminal misdemeanor and can result in jail, fines and a six-point violation on your driving record. If the motorist is inebriated when driving recklessly, the penalties increase. Despite this, many motorists continue to drive in a reckless manner. Let us examine the different types of reckless driving and how it impacts others on the road.
Reckless Driving Defined
South Carolina law defines reckless driving as the willful, wanton disregard for the safety of others or their property while operating a motor vehicle. Willful means that someone may be acting intentionally or deliberately while wanton is acting in an unrestrained and unprovoked manner. It is more than ordinary negligence. Basically, the reckless driver does not care how their actions will affect others.
Differentiating Negligence and Reckless Driving
The main difference between reckless and negligent driving is that the reckless driver knows what he or she is doing wrong and doesn’t care. An example is a reckless driver who is intoxicated and has a history of DUIs in the past. An intoxicated driver receives a warning when they are convicted of DUI that this behavior can cause serious injury or death. Since they are aware of what their behavior can do and do it anyway, they can be charged with a serious offense if someone is injured or dies.
Negligent driving, on the other hand, occurs when a driver is not taking reasonable care to keep others safe. They may be aware that driving home after an evening out where they consumed several drinks is risky. But they do not fully comprehend, although they should, the consequences of their actions. This is considered negligent behavior, and the driver can be held responsible for their actions in a legal claim.
Types of Reckless Driving
Some common varieties of reckless driving in South Carolina are:
- Speeding: This driving behavior was responsible for more than 9,000 lives lost nationwide in 2019, which represented 26 percent of all crash fatalities that year. Not only does high speed make it more likely that an accident will happen due to loss of vehicle control, but it also increases the force of impact, ensuring significant injuries and deaths. Driving at the speed limit can be construed to be reckless if the road and weather conditions are poor.
- Tailgating: Following a vehicle too closely, a behavior known as tailgating, causes numerous accidents each year. It is prudent to leave several car lengths between your vehicle and the lead car. When this reckless driving occurs, the driver to the rear does not have enough time to slow down if the lead vehicle stops or slows, causing a rear-end accident. Such accidents result in cervical strain, also known as whiplash.
- Cutting in and out in traffic: Highway drivers who weave haphazardly from one lane to another without signaling can cause horrific, multiple-vehicle accidents. This type of driver displays no regard for other motorists and often displays anger issues.
- Racing: Some drivers insist on traveling at a high speed on the highway with the purpose of racing another vehicle. This sets the stage for a high-speed accident and the devastating injuries that accompany it. The driver has clear knowledge that they are not driving within the speed limit or even close to it. Yet, they do it anyway - a reckless act.
- Running a red light or a stop sign: Some drivers intentionally run a red light or stop sign because it is better for them to do so. They may be late for a meeting or anxious to return home. Not only is it convenient for them to save time, but they also know that others may be adversely affected by their actions. This form of reckless driving is the leading cause of intersection crashes that result in significant injuries or deaths. Taking a chance on hurting others for your own convenience is considered a reckless act.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol: Everyone knows that their reflexes, cognitive skills and judgment will be impaired by drunk or drugged driving. When this occurs, the likelihood of a serious accident or a fatal one increases exponentially. This reckless act can be charged as reckless homicide if another person dies because of it.
- Road rage: When a motorist uses their vehicle to harm another person, road rage is involved. All too often today road rage is happening on urban streets and highways. This is categorized as reckless behavior.
Morris Law - Reckless Driving
If you have been in an accident due to reckless driving, you have every right to be compensated for your damages. This includes medical expenses, loss of income and pain and suffering. As an injury lawyer, we have helped many victims of road rage and families who have lost a loved one. Call our offices at (803) 470-4444 to schedule a free case review. Let us do what needs to be done, and spend your time healing from your injuries.