Man Receives His 3rd DUI Charge and Potential Charge of Vehicular Manslaughter
A man was charged in Lexington County with hitting and killing a Department of Transportation worker – and his third DUI charge.
On December 4th, 39-year-old Thomas Stafford from West Columbia was driving down I-20 when he suddenly swerved into 21-year-old Nicholas Johnson of Columbia, a DOT worker. He then pulled over a short distance later on the interstate when his friends indicated he should pull over. They explained what happened to him.
At a bond hearing that afternoon, Stafford said he had no idea what happened. “It scared me,” said Stafford in court. Officers said that Stafford was confused because he was drunk.
Stafford’s first DUI charge came in 2009, so this is far from his first offense. He was arrested a second time, just 16 days before the accident – on November 19th. Although he was not in jail, he was still awaiting trial for that charge.
This will be his third DUI charge, and his first charge of leaving the scene of an accident that involves death.
Pete Strom Comments on WLTX About DUI Charges
“I routinely see judges give people 10 to 25 years on felony DUI when there is a history of alcohol involved and a high alcohol content in a particular case,” said Pete Strom, former US Attorney and founder of the Strom Law Firm in Columbia, SC. “Oh yeah. The judges do not mind stickin’ it to them and sending a message.”
According to Strom, Stafford could face a 25 year sentence.
“Sometimes you see something that’s situational,” said Strom. “Sometimes it’s someone who very rarely drinks and he goes to some Christmas party and he has too much.” However, in Stafford’s case, he has a history of DUI charges. “The courts look at that. They want to know ‘what’s the story on this guy? Is there a history here?’ You want to bring in his family. This guy is presumed innocent, but if he’s convicted with a high alcohol content, he’s going to be facing a significant amount of time.”
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with DUI Charges in South Carolina
In 2009, South Carolina DUI penalties became more intense with stiffer fines and more jail time making it even more critical that you are represented by a criminal defense lawyer.
The higher your BAC, the stiffer the penalties.
- If you refuse to take the breathalyzer test, even for a DUI first offense, you will lose your license for 6 months, unless you request an administrative suspension hearing.
Your punishment for drunk driving is based upon whether:
- the charge is a DUI first, DUI second, DUI third, or subsequent offense;
- your blood alcohol level;
- whether you refused to take a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer;
- you had minors in your vehicle; and
- whether you were involved in an accident.
The Strom Law Firm, LLC handles the following types of DUI charges:
- Reducing DUI charges to reckless driving
- Felony DUI
- Boating under the influence
- Underage drinking
- Military base DUI
- DUI drugs
- Traffic Offenses
- Flying under the influence
Whether it is your first offense or you have a prior record of DUI charges, our extensive knowledge of the law and access to resources can help you avoid fines, the loss of your license, jail time and other potential DUI punishments, including a suspended license.
If you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI, you need a criminal defense attorney to ensure that you do not unknowingly waive any important rights. It is a complex law, with a surprisingly large gray area of actual DUI culpability.