Study finds South Carolina ranks No. 2 for alcohol-related fatalities


A new study, based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, found South Carolina roads are some of the deadliest nationwide.

The study, conducted by, found that the culprit behind this deadly trend is drug and alcohol use. It put South Carolina in the number 2 spot for traffic fatalities involving impaired drivers.

For Martha Gentry, the statistics are reality. Gentry’s 6-year-old son, Ty Couch, was killed by a drunk driver who was also under the influence of crack cocaine.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my little boy and what this man took from me,” Gentry said, “He took something precious away from me just because he chose to drink and drive and take drugs, but was it worth my baby’s life?”

Tragically, she's not alone. The study found that drugs and alcohol account for 7.2 deaths per 100,000 people in our state. It’s an alarming statistic that puts South Carolina near the top of the list. Montana is the only other state that ranked higher in the study.

According to the SC Department of Public Safety, nearly half of all fatal crashes in the state involve an impaired driver.

“What surprises people is, according to our DUI statute in South Carolina, you can get charged with a DUI if your ability to drive safely is impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs,” Greenville attorney, John Bateman said.

Bateman said South Carolina law does not distinguish between street drugs and doctor-prescribed medications that could cause impairment. According to Bateman, both are grounds for DUI.

Learn more about the study here.

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