Last week, your Charleston lawyers at Howell and Christmas came across a report of a young man from Moncks Corner who pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a fatal drunk driving accident that happened in rural Berkeley County three years ago. The young man, now 21-years-old, was charged with felony driving under the influence (DUI) after an October 2008 car accident killed a 17-year-old Berkeley High School football player. But, the now 21-year-old pleaded guilty to reckless homicide, a lesser charge, and sentenced to 10 years in prison. However the sentence is suspended to three years in prison followed by five years of probation, which means if the young Moncks Corner man keeps on the straight and narrow for three years, he will be released. But, if any behavioral issues arise, he could spend a larger part of his 10 year sentence in prison.
It was noted above that reckless homicide was a lesser charge than what the young man was initially charged, felony DUI. The reason reckless homicide considered lesser is because the penalties are less severe. Had the young man and his lawyer, if he was represented, decided to have the felony DUI taken to trial and lost, he could have been sentenced to a maximum of 25 years in prison, as opposed to the maximum of 10 for the charge of reckless homicide. Without knowing the facts and evidence surrounding this case, and only taking into account the age of the Moncks Corner man, it is a safer bet to accept the three years of prison time and probation than risk having to serve a sentence that exceeds the time you have been alive.
If you look back to a couple past entries posted by your lawyers in Charleston, there a couple posts that discuss some unfortunate statistics concerning the safety of South Carolina roadways. While the Palmetto State may be home the nation’s deadliest roads and highways, it appears that the State Department of Transportation has taken notice and are making strides to improve the safety of our State’s thoroughfares.
To make one the nation’s most traveled interstates safer in South Carolina the Transportation Department is thinning trees along Interstate 95 in Colleton County as part of a pilot project called “Timber Management for Safety.” A contractor was scheduled to thin 32 acres of trees in the median along more than two miles of I-95. A statistic not mentioned your Charleston accident attorneys in previous entries is that vehicles hitting trees makes up 20 percent of fatalities on South Carolina interstates. Furthermore, the Transportation Department reports that between 2003 and 2008 there were 14 deaths due to vehicles hitting trees located in the median, showing a need for safety improvement.
According to a Post and Courier report on Timber Management for Safety, the work in Colleton County should be completed by mid-November. Also mentioned in the report, which will please frequent travelers on this stretch of I-95, is that the tree trimming will not require any daytime lane closures.
Your Charleston car accident attorneys at Howell and Christmas would like to commend the Department of Transportation for this tree trimming effort, and hope similar projects will be implemented in the near future. As one can see from past entries on the South Carolina Injury Lawyer Blog, there are numerous accidents that result in serious injuries and death because of cars going off the road and hitting trees. Regardless of the circumstances leading to such accidents, it is still in the best interest of the motorist to limit the possibility of hitting a tree in the event they run off the road.