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What to Expect When Someone Else Gets a DUI in YOUR Car

A family member or friend asks to borrow your car, and being the good person that you are, you let them take it. No big deal, right? Well, what happens if they get charged with Driving Under the Influence while operating your motor vehicle?
It is important to note that in South Carolina a person can be charged with DUI not only if they are driving while under the influence or alcohol, but also if they are under the influence of drugs or other intoxicants. So, if they are charged with such an offense, will you be faced with some sort of liability? As far as the police go, you will most likely not face charges yourself. It is conceivable that you could be charged as an accessory, but the likelihood of that happening is slim. An accessory is defined as someone who “counsels, hires, or otherwise procures a felony to be committed.” Obviously the driver would have to be charged with felony DUI, and you would have to do more than merely loan him or her your car in order for you to face an accessory charge.
Perhaps if you were to purposefully direct the individual to drive your vehicle knowing that he or she was intoxicated, and they were arrested on felony DUI charges, then you may need to seek out a criminal defense attorney.
However, despite the limited possibility of criminal charges, there have been instances of the owner of the car being sued in civil court. Such cases are based on the torts of “negligent entrustment” and/or “vicarious liability.” With negligent entrustment, you can be held civilly responsible (and liable for any damages caused by the driver) if you allowed a person to use your property and you knew or should have known that the person would likely use it in a reckless or dangerous manner. In this case, if you knew the driver had previously been charged with DUI or had a propensity to drink and drive, or appeared intoxicated at the time you loaned the car, you might be on the hook for civil damages. Vicarious liability, however, generally only applies in the case of an employer allowing an employee to operate the employer’s vehicle.
One thing you will likely need to be concerned about if someone gets a DUI while driving your car is your car insurance. It is very possible that your insurance company might raise your rates—or even drop your coverage—if another driver is arrested for DUI in your car.  This will depend on your particular policy and insurance company. It will be important to speak to your insurance agent to find out what could happen in your particular situation. Additionally, in the event your car gets impounded by the police following the DUI incident, you will be responsible for paying the towing fees as well as any fees to get the car out of impound.
Though you will likely not face the type of liability or consequences that you would have faced if you yourself were charged with a DUI, allowing someone to borrow your car who subsequently gets charged with a DUI in your vehicle can still raise some alarming ramifications for you. Always keep this in mind when allowing others to drive your vehicle. If you have questions or you are in need of a strong legal advocate to represent you in a DUI case or some other criminal proceeding, please do not hesitate to contact the Greg McCollum Complete Legal Defense Team today!

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