Smart, Focused Defense Against DUI Charges

Felony Cases

       Unlike other offenses involving impaired driving in South Carolina, Felony Driving Under the Influence is charged when it is alleged that a person has driven under the influence and caused either: (1) great bodily injury; or (2) death to another person.  These offenses are extremely serious, punishable by a sentence of up to twenty-five years in prison.  Moreover, because these cases involve victims or their families, prosecutors often feel compelled to secure convictions and severe sentences.

    This offense, its penalties and definitions of its concepts, are delineated in South Carolina by the following statute:

Felony Cases

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 another person, 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.

    (C)(1) The Department of Motor Vehicles shall suspend the driver’s license of a person who is convicted pursuant to this section. For suspension purposes of this section, convictions arising out of a single incident must run concurrently.
       (2) After the person is released from prison, the person shall enroll in the Ignition Interlock Device Program pursuant to Section 56-5-2941, end the suspension, and obtain an ignition interlock restricted license pursuant to Section 56-1-400. The ignition interlock device is required to be affixed to the motor vehicle for three years when great bodily injury results and five years when a death occurs.

    (D) 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

In South Carolina, therefore, the elements of this offense that must be proven by the state are:

  1. That the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  2. That, while under the influence, the defendant drove a motor vehicle;
  3. That, while driving, the defendant does “any act forbidden by law or neglects any duty imposed by law in the driving of the motor vehicle;” and
  4. That such “act or neglect proximately causes great bodily injury or death to another person.”

            In these cases, law enforcement almost invariably utilizes the Multi-disciplinary
Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) a specialized unit of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.  MAIT focuses on the investigation and analysis of vehicular crashes in order to reconstruct the accident.  The testimony of these experts should be challenged and their analysis must be deconstructed in defending an individual that is accused of these crimes.

            Chip Burn, a former prosecutor, knows how MAIT analyses and testimony are utilized in building a Felony DUI case.  He has also had the benefit of years of defending numerous clients accused of these crimes throughout South Carolina, with a proven record of success in these cases.  To schedule a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney, contact us or call (803) 358-7220 today.