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South Carolina Code Annotated 56-5-2945: Felony Driving Under the Influence (Felony DUI)

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Felony Driving Under the Influence (Felony DUI) Under South Carolina Code Annotated 56-5-2945, the crime of felony DUI is defined as the operation (i.e., driving) of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs (or a combination of both) which results in the death or great bodily injury of an individual who is not the driver.

To prove the crime of Felony DUI, the State of South Carolina must be able to prove the following elements Beyond a Reasonable Doubt:

  1. That the Defendant did drive a vehicle
  2. In the State of South Carolina; and
  3. That, in doing so, the Defendant was under the influence of intoxicating liquors or drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs AND
  4. The Defendant’s actions or neglect of any duty imposed by law proximately causes the great bodily injury or death to another person

“Great Bodily Injury” is defined as bodily injury that creates either: (1) the injury is of such a nature that there is a substantial risk of death; (2) the injury results in permanent disfigurement; OR (3) a lengthy or permanent loss or impairment of any body part or organ.

A third conviction for DUI in South Carolina within a ten year period is also punishable as a Felony offense under South Carolina law.

2. Examples

Defendant and his friend are agitated and bored after spending months in quarantine at their parent’s houses during the coronavirus crisis. Defendant and his friend plan to take advantage of the minimal traffic conditions at night to test drive Defendant’s new car in Rock Hill. Around midnight, the Defendant picks up his friend who lives on the other side of the Buster Boyd Bridge in Lake Wylie, S.C. They take turns racing the car down the highway at speeds at greater than 100 mph. Defendant and friend also are taking swigs from a whiskey bottle Defendant brought from his parent’s house. While Defendant is driving on Hamiltons Ferry Road, near River Hills Plantation, a deer runs onto the highway. Defendant is speeding too fast to adequately brake and steer clear of the deer. Defendant’s car flips several times and friend is ejected from the car and dies in the hospital several hours later from a catastrophic brain injury. Defendant can be charged with Felony DUI.

Defendant and girlfriend take turns smoking joints and snorting cocaine while they drive down to Charleston for the weekend. Defendant does not realize he is swerving into the other lane when he looks down to snort a line of cocaine off a small mirror girlfriend is holding. Defendant collides head on with a husband and wife driving home from dinner in downtown Columbia, SC. Husband and wife are killed on impact and girlfriend suffers severe lacerations to her face that cause permanent nerve damage and partial paralysis in her hand. Officers suspect that Defendant is impaired (DUI driving under the influence) when they arrive on scene. Defendant is taken to hospital where his blood is drawn under a valid search warrant. Defendant can be charged with two counts of Felony DUI resulting in death and one count of Felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury.

3. Related Statutes/Articles

For other similar articles or related statutes to Felony DUI, please see:

  1. South Carolina DUI Laws
  2. What is DUI in South Carolina?
  3. What’s the difference between DUI and DWI?
  4. How much does a DUI cost?
  5. South Carolina Code Ann. 56-5-2950: Implied Consent Testing
  6. Woman Sentenced to 16 years in Crash that Kills 2
  7. Charlotte Man Faces DUI after Rock Hill Woman Killed
  8. Woman Charged With Felony DUI Not Behind the Wheel
4. Defenses

Felony Driving Under the Influence (Felony DUI) If a Defendant can prove that he or she was not operating a motor vehicle or was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs (or a combination thereof), Defendant cannot be convicted of Felony DUI.

The accused may also can challenge the methods of obtaining a breath, blood or urine sample which may result in the exclusion of that evidence at trial. For more information about defenses to DUI charges, call an experienced South Carolina DUI lawyer.

5. Penalties for Felony DUI

The crime of felony driving under influence is punishable by a maximum period of incarceration of twenty-five years in a state penitentiary if the DUI offense results in death and is punishable by a maximum period of incarceration of fifteen years in a state penitentiary if the DUI offense results in great bodily injury.

In addition to prison time, the Defendant is also subject to monetary fines as well for Felony DUI. If the Defendant’s DUI offense results in great bodily injury, he or she is subject to a maximum fine of $10,000. The Defendant must pay, at a minimum, a mandatory fine of $5,000.

If the Defendant’s DUI conviction results in death, he or she is subject to a maximum fine of $25,100. The Defendant must pay, at a minimum, a mandatory fine of $10,100.

6. Criminal Defense for Felony DUI

A Felony DUI is an extremely serious charge that can result in a decade or more in a state penitentiary. You need to consult with an experienced South Carolina attorney immediately who understands the minutiae and nuances of DUI law in South Carolina.

A experienced criminal defense lawyer will carefully analyze investigatory procedures used by law enforcement prior to your DUI arrest. At Powers Law, our South Carolina attorney understands how to zealously defend you in court against felony DUI charges.

Please call us today for a free consultation.

It’s imperative to begin your defense without delay.

Please call 803-504-6686 immediately.

Chris Beddow is solely responsible for South Carolina content on the Powers Law Firm PA website. Chris J. Beddow is the only South Carolina criminal defense lawyer at Powers Law Firm, PA. He helps people with serious felony criminal charges and DUI cases throughout upstate South Carolina, including in Fort Mill, South Carolina, Rock Hill, in York County, and Lancaster County.

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