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What makes a Felony DUI in South Carolina?

What makes a Felony DUI in South Carolina?

There are three possible ways a DUI becomes a Felony in South Carolina:
  1. The at-fault driver in a wreck resulting in a fatality was materially and appreciably impaired;
  2. The at-fault driver in a wreck resulting in significant injuries (to someone other than themselves), was materially and appreciably impaired.
  3. The driver has two or more prior convictions for DUI in a 10 year period, making the current DUI a 3rd offense (or higher).

Most of the time when you hear about someone being charged with “Felony DUI” it refers to a situation where someone was either killed or very seriously injured in a wreck. In this type of Felony DUI it is also a legal requirement that someone be both guilty of DUI and have violated some traffic law in causing the wreck.

Penalties for a Felony DUI are greatly increased over a normal DUI. In situations where death result the maximum penalty is 25 years. In situations with great bodily injury the maximum penalty is 15 years. Prosecutors and courts aren’t normally very much persuaded to drop these cases just because someone has no prior history of DUI or other criminal record. They are always taken very seriously.

Because these types of Felony DUI cases involve a violation of a traffic law in addition to being DUI, it can be critical for the defense to start immediately to try to gather evidence. For example, in situations where a commercial vehicle is involved in a serious accident, and their insurance company is possibly on the hook for a substantial amount, they will immediately dispatch accident investigators and reconstructionist to the scene to take photographs, interview witnesses and gather evidence. The insurance company investigators can sometimes arrive so quickly they are on-scene with the police officers, EMT’s and fire-trucks.

 Although most people charged with Felony DUI aren’t going to be able to get started that quickly on their defense, it is a really good idea to get a defense team in place quickly enough to photograph road conditions and attempt to locate and interview all possible witnesses.

All of the lawyers at the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, are members of the National College of DUI Defense and are experienced in representing clients charged with all types of Felony DUI. We can help with your case. Contact us at 1-888-301-3532 to schedule a consultation.


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