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Suspected DUI takes life of 15-year-old S.C. student

All too often, driving fatalities include victims of a drunk driving crash and drivers impaired from illicit and prescription drugs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that drugs other than alcohol, such as marijuana and cocaine, were a factor in approximately 18 percent of motor vehicle deaths. Even more dangerous is that drivers often use these drugs with alcohol. The U.S. Public Health Service's National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that drunk and drugged driving is a serious problem in this country and, more specifically, 4.3 to 4.7 percent of persons in South Carolina drove under the influence of illicit drugs from 2006 to 2009.

A fatal and tragic accident on December 6 underscores these figures. A 15-year-old died in a car crash on as he was driving to school. A 60-year-old Lexington man driving a Honda Pilot crossed the center lane of Old Barnwell Road in Lexington County and crashed into the teenager's two-door Pontiac.

The motorist was charged with felony DUI resulting in death and possession of a controlled substance. At a bond hearing, police testified that he did not pass field sobriety tests and refused to take a breath test. Police found two pills in an unmarked bag in his vehicle. The suspect also acknowledged that he took Xanax and Klonopin daily.

The driver declined to speak at the hearing. His bond was set at $115,000 and he remains incarcerated in the Lexington County Detention Center.

The student's uncle said that the teen was a cautious driver. He planned to be a doctor.

Victims injured by a drunk driver or a drug-impaired motorist may seek compensation for losses suffered from these motorists or from the establishment that served an intoxicated driver through a Dram shop liability lawsuit. Their families may also file a wrongful death action for the loss of a relative at the hands of an impaired motorist. Victims and their families should seek prompt advice to protect their rights, determine liability and assure that legal actions are filed within the appropriate time periods.

Source: The State, "Family remembers student killed as bond set on DUI charge," Chris Winston, Dec. 7, 2013

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