dui felony

For most people facing DUI charges in South Carolina, this will be their first and only interaction with the criminal justice system. Even so, it is right to be concerned about how this case can impact your future. Many people wonder whether the case will impact their ability to get a job, own a firearm, or even vote.

These concerns often arise when people learn that they are facing criminal charges that are felonies. It is reasonable to ask if DUI is a felony in South Carolina. The answer is, “It depends.” The fact of the matter is that a DUI in South Carolina can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. How a court will handle the case depends on the circumstances of the incident. The legal team at Truslow & Truslow PA is ready to explain when a DUI case becomes a felony and works to provide powerful defenses against all types of DUI allegations.

When a DUI Case Becomes a Felony

All DUI cases in South Carolina are matters for the criminal courts. At the same time, criminal cases fall into one of the two categories of misdemeanors and felonies. 

South Carolina’s DUI statute is contained in South Carolina Code § 56-5-2930. This statute outlines both what the State must prove to obtain a DUI conviction and the penalties for these convictions.

It also states that most DUI cases are misdemeanors, even if a person has prior DUI convictions on their criminal record. However, a small subsection of DUI cases will move forward as felonies. Why does this happen?

Prosecutors can pursue felony DUI charges if an incident involves another person suffering great bodily harm or death. According to S.C. Code § 56-5-2945, the prosecutor must prove that a person’s intoxicated state caused this harm as a result of negligence. As a result, collisions that a person is alleged to have caused while drunk may lead to felony charges if that crash caused injury or death to another.

The Potential Consequences of a Felony DUI Conviction in South Carolina

Felony DUI cases in South Carolina always come with severe penalties after a conviction. If the incident involves great bodily harm to another person, a finding of guilt comes with a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 30 days. However, judges have the discretion to sentence a person to a prison term of up to 15 years. At the same time, a person may need to pay a fine of many thousands of dollars and install an ignition interlock device upon getting out of jail.

The penalties for a DUI involving a death are even more severe. Here, a person must spend at least one year in prison with maximum terms reaching as long as 25 years. The maximum fines also increase along with the ignition interlock requirements. An attorney at Truslow & Truslow PA can provide more information about how a felony DUI conviction can impact an individual’s life.

Get the Help You Need if You are Facing a Felony DUI Case in South Carolina

Every allegation of drunk driving in South Carolina is a serious matter. However, even supposed repeat offenders will have their cases move forward as misdemeanors. Still, a small set of DUI cases are felonies under state law. These occur when a DUI incident results in the severe bodily harm or death of another person. In these cases, convictions come with life-altering consequences.

Contact the team at Truslow & Truslow PA now. They are ready to explain more about felony DUI cases in South Carolina and work towards building a defense to protect your present and future.