Mt. Pleasant Felony DUI Attorney
What is Felony DUI in South Carolina?
As a felony DUI lawyer in Mount Pleasant, SC can explain, a felony DUI charge occurs when a person drives a motor vehicle while impaired under the influence of alcohol and causes great bodily injury or death.
More specifically, to prove a felony DUI, the prosecutor must show the following:
- the defendant was under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination;
- the defendant was driving a motor vehicle;
- while driving the motor vehicle, the defendant committed an unlawful act or neglected a duty imposed by law in the driving of the motor vehicle;
- the above act or neglect caused great bodily injury or death to another person.
In summary, a person can be arrested for felony DUI when an officer determines there is probable cause that the person was driving a motor vehicle, was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, violated a traffic law, and their driving and impairment was the proximate cause of the serious bodily injury or death of another. Note that “proximate cause” means a driver’s action is the nearest, direct cause of the injury or death (if the driver’s act had not taken place, the injury would not have occurred). “Great bodily injury” is defined by South Carolina felony DUI law as bodily injury which is life threatening, causes permanent disfigurement, or results in the loss or impairment of the function of any bodily function or organ.
A felony DUI is a serious legal matter and should be handled by a lawyer who concentrates in the field; contact Joe Good, Attorney at Law online or at 843-412-1401 for a free consultation to discuss your defense.
What is the Penalty for Felony DUI in SC?
An individual convicted of causing great bodily injury or death while driving under the influence could face a number of fines or jail time, depending on the specific circumstances of the incident. In a case of great bodily injury, the defendant could face a mandatory fine of $5,100-$10,100 and imprisonment for 30 days to 15 years, as well as ignition interlock device (IID) use for 3 years. If death occurs, the defendant will face a mandatory fine of $10,100 to $25,100 and 1-25 years in jail, as well as IID use for 5 years.
In the case where the acts of a driver prosecuted for felony DUI cause serious bodily injury or death to more than one person, the law provides that a court must sentence the driver on each count of felony DUI for each person who is injured or dies. When imposing sentences on multiple counts of conviction, a court can order that the sentence run either concurrently or consecutively, where a concurrent sentence means that all sentences are served at the same time and a consecutive sentence means that the sentence on each count must run in sequence. For example, if a driver were sentenced to two 10-year sentences to be served consecutively, they must serve the first 10-year sentence, and after completion the second 10-year sentence would commence. If the sentences were ordered to be served concurrently, both of the 10-year sentences would be considered to be served at the same time.
Defending Against a Felony DUI
Fighting against any criminal charge is important, but when the charge is classified as a felony, with the consequences of conviction often very harsh, building a strong defense is even more critical. This is why you need a skilled felony DUI lawyer in Mount Pleasant, SC by your side.
There are options that your lawyer may have defending against these charges. Remember, a felony DUI is a very specific crime that must meet specific criteria in order for a jury to find you guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The South Carolina statute that address felony DUI states:
“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 another person, is guilty of the offense of felony driving under the influence, and, upon conviction, must be punished.”
If the prosecution cannot prove each element required for a crime to be classified as a felony DUI, then they have not proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The major element for this crime is that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must have been over the legal limit at the time of the incident. Proving you were under the influence of alcohol involves the results of a breathalyzer test, results of any field sobriety tests, and the documentation of impairment by the arresting officer based on his or her observations.
All of this evidence may be able to be challenged by your Mount Pleasant, SC DUI lawyer.
What If Evidence of DUI Cannot Be Challenged
If a person was indeed driving under the influence when they were involved in an accident where a victim suffered great bodily injury or death, there may still be a chance of reducing the charge of DUI from felony to misdemeanor, which carries a much lesser penalty if convicted.
One option your lawyer may have is to prove that the accident was not your fault, even though you were over driving under the influence. For example, maybe the other driver ran a red light and that was the cause of the crash that caused the injuries or death. Another possibility is that there was some kind of mechanical failure of your vehicle at the time of the crash, such as brakes failing or a tire blowout.
If your Mount Pleasant, SC DUI lawyer can show you did not cause the crash, then you are not legally guilty of felony DUI.
Defining Great Bodily Injury
Another element that must be present in a felony DUI conviction is that the victim suffered “great bodily injury.” Again, the statute lists a number of criteria that must be met in order for any victim injuries to be classified as great. If your lawyer can show that the injuries were not as serious as the prosecutor is claiming, then the charge may be reduced from a felony DUI to a misdemeanor DUI.
Contact Joe Good, Attorney at Law for Legal Support
If you are facing charges for felony DUI in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, do not hesitate to consult an experienced trial attorney for legal representation. DUIs at the felony level warrant much severer penalties, as they involve the injury or death of another person. If you believe you have been unfairly accused, such as for multiple counts of felony DUI, you can work with Joe Good, Attorney at Law to build a strong defense against your specific charges. Attorney Joe Good is a dedicated DUI lawyer who has the professional knowledge and trial experience you need to put up a tough fight in court.