If you are one of those people who have received a Felony DUI charge as opposed to a misdemeanor DUI charge, you are likely facing much harsher penalties. Felony DUI charges usually apply when a DUI offense is accompanied by an accident that resulted in great bodily injury, or the death of another person.
If an individual is being accused of committing a DUI offense that resulted in the “great bodily injury” of another person, it is likely that the DUI charge the person is facing will be upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony. Under South Carolina Code 56-5-2945, great bodily injury is defined as any bodily injury that either causes great risk of death, or causes “serious permanent disfigurement” to any part of a person’s body.
A driver, who is being charged with felony DUI as a result of the death of another person, will face even more serious charges. Nationwide, deaths as a result of those with a B.A.C of 0.08% or higher, are on the increase, and they make up over 30% of the total traffic fatalities for the entire year. In the state of South Carolina, there were over 300 fatalities in 2011 that involved drivers who B.A.C was over the legal limit, which makes up almost 40% of all traffic fatalities in the state.
If you are a driver who has been charged with DUI causing great bodily injury, you face 30 days to 15 years in jail, mandatory fines between $5000 and $10,000, and drivers license suspension for the jail-time plus three years. Further, if a driver has been involved in a DUI resulting in death, they stand spend 1 year to 25 years in prison, mandatory fine of $10,000 to 25,000, and drivers license suspension of term of imprisonment plus 5 years.
The following is the statute that speaks to DUI resulting in “great bodily injury:”
56-5-2945. Offense of felony driving under the influence; penalties; “great bodily injury” defined.
(A) A person who, while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or the combination of alcohol and drugs, drives a motor vehicle and when driving a motor vehicle does any act forbidden by law or neglects any duty imposed by law in the driving of the motor vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes great bodily injury or death to a person other than himself, is guilty of the offense of felony driving under the influence and, upon conviction, must be punished:
(1) by a mandatory fine of not less than five thousand one hundred dollars nor more than ten thousand one hundred dollars and mandatory imprisonment for not less than thirty days nor more than fifteen years when great bodily injury results;
(2) by a mandatory fine of not less than ten thousand one hundred dollars nor more than twenty-five thousand one hundred dollars and mandatory imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than twenty-five years when death results.
A part of the mandatory sentences required to be imposed by this section must not be suspended, and probation must not be granted for any portion.
(B) As used in this section, “great bodily injury” means bodily injury which 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.
The Department of Motor Vehicles must suspend the driver’s license of a person who is convicted or who receives sentence upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere pursuant to this section for a period to include a period of incarceration plus three years for a conviction of Section 56-5-2945 when “great bodily injury” occurs and five years when a death occurs. This period of incarceration shall not include any portion of a suspended sentence such as probation, parole, supervised furlough, or community supervision. For suspension purposes of this section, convictions arising out of a single incident shall run concurrently.
(C) One hundred dollars of each fine imposed pursuant to this section must be placed by the Comptroller General into a special restricted account to be used by the Department of Public Safety for the Highway Patrol.
So, if you have been arrested or are under investigation by law enforcement for an alleged DUI offense, do not waste any time. It is incredibly important that you retain a competent attorney as soon as possible. Felony charges are incredibly serious, and may result in a serious prison term. The law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP handles all types of DUI cases, and we can assist you with your current DUI issue. For a consultation, call us at 803-548-4444, or 877-374-5999.