Walking under the influence is less hazardous than driving under the influence, but an intoxicated pedestrian can still be a danger for those on the road. According to the South Carolina Department of Transportation, drunk pedestrians were involved in more crashes than drunk drivers in 2019.

Walking home rather than getting a ride with a sober driver can be a much bigger risk than you think when you’re under the influence. Learn the hazards of walking after drinking and how Joye Law Firm can assist you if you’ve been injured in a pedestrian collision.

The Risks of Walking Under the Influence

The hazards of walking and driving under the influence are the same. Alcohol impairs your motor skills, reflexes, and decision-making abilities, causing you to make poor decisions and making it difficult to react quickly.

Drunk pedestrians might stumble or fall into the street, jaywalk without checking for cars instead of using a crosswalk, or move too slowly to get away from an oncoming car. Pew Trusts, which operates the Pew Research Center, found that most drunk pedestrians killed in fatal crashes are struck outside of crosswalks.

In some cases, drunk pedestrians crossing against the light can cause a driver to swerve and collide with an object or vehicle to avoid hitting the pedestrian.

Who Is Liable If a Drunk Pedestrian Is Hit by a Car?

South Carolina is an at-fault state, meaning that whoever caused a collision is liable for the other party’s damages. While drivers generally have a duty to avoid hitting or injuring a pedestrian, the pedestrian can be deemed at least partially at fault for a crash and their own injuries (and even potentially the driver’s injuries) if they were drunk or reckless.

When Pedestrians Are Liable

Walking under the influence can be illegal in South Carolina. Under the Code of Laws § 56-5-3270, anyone inebriated enough to pose a danger to themselves or others can only lawfully walk on the sidewalk. They may be liable for damages if they enter the road or a crosswalk and cause an accident.

Even if they aren’t intoxicated, pedestrians hold a degree of responsibility on the road. Under South Carolina law, a pedestrian can be held liable for a collision if they cross the street outside a crosswalk, step into the street unexpectedly, or walk on the road when a sidewalk is available.

Can Both Parties Be Liable?

South Carolina uses a modified comparative negligence system, meaning that both the driver and pedestrian can be held responsible for the accident. The party who is less than 51% responsible for the collision can file a claim against the other responsible party for damages, but the injured party’s earnings will be reduced by their own degree of fault.

However, partial liability can be tricky to determine. For example, if a drunk pedestrian is walking on the edge of the sidewalk while a sober driver is driving at the posted speed limit.

Assume the pedestrian falls off the sidewalk and into the street, and the driver can’t stop before hitting them. Does the pedestrian hold more liability for suddenly entering the road, or does the driver for not slowing down for the potential hazard?

Determining liability can become challenging when alcohol is involved in a crash. A North Charleston pedestrian accident lawyer like those at Joye Law Firm can review the facts of your case and argue that you were not responsible for your accident.

Staying Safe on Your Way Home

If you’re trying to get home safely after a night of drinking, you can:

Hail a Ride Home

Ridesharing apps and private transportation services can help you get home safely, often regardless of location or time of night. Instead of walking, get an Uber or Lyft home from the bar. Depending on your location, you may even be able to call a taxi service to take you home.

Have a Designated Driver

If you’re planning to drink with friends, agree on who will be the designated driver. The designated driver won’t drink alcohol that night and will drive everyone else home after the outing.

Take Public Transport

Every region of South Carolina has a public bus system that you can use to get home. You can find public transit providers for all counties on the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s website.

However, public transportation options are often limited late at night. For example, CARTA (which serves the Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties) only operates until 1:00 a.m. on weeknights and stops even earlier on weekends. You may want to have a rideshare option as a backup in case you stay out late.

Contact Joye Law Firm if You Were Involved in a Pedestrian Accident

A collision with a drunk pedestrian can leave both the pedestrian and driver injured with no clear answer as to who is responsible. If you or a loved one were injured in the accident, a personal injury attorney from Joye Law Firm can review your legal options and help you recover the damages you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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