When is a DUI a felony?

Typically, an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance in Florence will net you a misdemeanor charge. Misdemeanors may be viewed by some as a proverbial "slap on the wrist," yet do not be fooled: a DUI charge is a very serious offense for which the potential penalties can be even more so. Fines, a license suspension and substance abuse counseling may be included in the punitive action you might have to face. It should also be noted that these are typical penalties when facing with a misdemeanor; imagine how much more grave they may be if you are charged with a felony DUI. 

Per Section 56-5-2945 of South Carolina's Code of Laws, a DUI offense becomes a felony if in the course of driving under the influence you are involved in an accident that causes the great bodily injury or death of another. For the purposes of this law, "great bodily injury" includes any injuries that: 

  • Create a substantial risk of death
  • Cause serious, permanent disfigurement
  • Cause the protracted loss or limitation of function of any bodily system or organ

The potential penalties that you might face for a felony DUI include fines between $5,100-$10,100 and a prison term of between 30 days to fifteen years if your accident cause great bodily injury to another. If your driving under the influence allegedly results in another's death, those penalties increase to up to $25,100 in fines and 25 years in prison. 

As is the case with misdemeanor DUI charges, the validity of the test supposedly confirming that you were driving drunk are the key element in your case. Whether or not you were even to blame for your accident should also be considered. 

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