DUI Defense and DUI Felony

DUI Defense and DUI Felony

If you’re facing DUI felony charges in South Carolina you’re potentially facing some life-changing punishments.

You can be incarcerated for a number of years, be ordered to pay huge fines, and lose your license indefinitely.

It’s essential to the outcome of your case that you work with an experienced DUI lawyer with a proven history of building DUI defenses that work.

The smallest error on your part can harm your defense. As will not picking up on errors made by law enforcement, and not fully understanding your constitutional rights.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI felony call us today. At Kent Law LLC we have experience building DUI defense cases. We will always fight for your rights and ensure you receive the minimum punishment.

What Constitutes a DUI Felony in South Carolina?

Most DUIs will be charged as misdemeanors. However, under certain circumstances, a DUI can be charged as a felony in South Carolina.

As outlined by Section 56-5-2945 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, DUI can be charged as a felony if it can be proved:

Understanding “Proximate” Cause

Under South Carolina law, the proximate cause of great bodily harm has to be proven. Proximate comes from the Latin word for “nearest”.

In the context of DUI law, this means that the acts of the driver are the nearest and most responsible cause of harm.

To further simplify this, if the driver suspected of driving under the influence caused great bodily injury or death as a result of their actions, they can be prosecuted as a felony DUI.

Understanding “Great Bodily Injury” Cause

To be charged as a felony, under South Carolina law it has to be proven that the driver caused “great bodily injury.”

In legal terms, great bodily injury is defined as any injury that:

“Creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”

What You Should Do When Pulled Over on Suspicion of a DUI

If you’re pulled over on suspicion of a DUI, and that’s all it will be at this stage, “suspicion”, it’s important you know what to do.

Following these basic steps can have a huge impact on the outcome of your case:

Pull over and be polite – As soon as you see the blue flashing lights in your rearview mirror, pull over calmly.

Always be polite to the officer, no matter if you’re in a hurry or annoyed at being pulled over. Getting angry isn’t going to help your case. In fact, it’s likely to have the opposite effect and damage your case.

Don’t say anything – You must provide your name, driver’s license, vehicle registration, and vehicle insurance details if asked. Outside of those details, use your right to stay silent.

Most importantly, regardless of how many drinks you’ve had, never admit to a police officer you’ve had a drink. Tell the officer, if you’re being arrested you want to speak with your attorney first.

Don’t take a breathalyzer if you’ve had a drink – You do not have to take a sobriety test, breathalyzer, or any other form of chemical test by law.

You’re within your rights to refuse to take a breathalyzer, and it’s within your interest to do so if you’ve been drinking.

Call a lawyer – The sooner you call a lawyer the better it’s going to be for the outcome of your case.

If you act on the advice of your lawyer and do exactly as they say, you’re always going to have a much better outcome than trying to fight the charges yourself.

Punishments for Felony DUIs in South Carolina

The exact penalties will vary depending on the specifics of the case. However, the law outlines the following punishments based on the following factors:

Felony DUI Resulting in Great Bodily Injury

For felony charges because of great bodily injury, you face a mandatory minimum punishment of 30 days in jail and fines ranging from $5,100 to $10,000.

On the higher end, you can face up to 15 years in prison and much higher fees including court costs and other additional costs.

There are also additional punishments. Such as losing your driver’s license, having to enroll in rehabilitation programs, and installing an ignition interlocking device.

Felony DUI Resulting in Death

For felony charges because of death, the penalties are understandably a lot harsher.  You face a mandatory minimum of one year in prison and fines of between $10,00 to $25,100.

On the higher end you face up to 25 years in prison – and you must serve at least 85% of whatever prison term you’re handed. There are also additional fees and costs that can easily double the total amount.

As with the great bodily injury charges, you can also receive some additional punishments. Expect to lose your license for five years, and have to enroll in programs and install an ignition interlocking device.

Felony DUI for a Fourth or Subsequent Offense

If you’re convicted of a fourth DUI, it automatically becomes a felony. The exact penalties depend on your BAC reading and some other factors.

However, you face between 1 to 7 years in prison, fines of several thousand dollars, loss of license, and some other conditions.

Call Our Law Firm Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one are facing DUI felony charges in South Carolina you have to act fast.

The more time you give our team to work on building a defense, the higher the chance of you beating your charges. Our goal is to see you walking away with the minimum possible punishment.

With so much on the line, this isn’t something you should face alone. We have experienced lawyers with a track record of helping clients beat their DUI charges.

Call our law office today at (803) 433-5368 to schedule your free consultation.