4 Factors That Can Lead to Aggravated DUI in South Carolina
In August of this year, a South Carolina fast food restaurant employee alerted law enforcement that someone who had been at the drive through window had an open container and also smelled like alcohol. According to the Daily Miner, the driver was pulled over and subsequently arrested, recording a blood alcohol content of 0.202. Two passengers - a 27-year-old and 1-year-old – were in the vehicle. The man, who had a previous DUI, was charged with two felony counts of aggravated DUI. Understanding the charge is an important part of knowing what the consequences may be and how to build a defense. The following are examples of aggravating factors:
- Child passenger
In South Carolina, a driver who is intoxicated and has a passenger younger than 16 may be charged with child endangerment. This will enhance the penalties associated with the DUI charge. The law states that someone who has committed the offense will face the DUI penalties and a fine of up to half the maximum fine associated with the DUI charge. A defendant could also be sentenced to prison time of up to half the maximum term of the time associated with the DUI charge.
- Blood alcohol content level
For most drivers, the legal blood alcohol threshold is 0.08, though there is a zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers. If a driver’s BAC is double the legal limit, an aggravated DUI charge could be the result. South Carolina law requires that any driver who is convicted of drunk driving and registers a BAC of 0.15 or higher install an ignition interlock device on the vehicle.
- Bodily injury or death
Causing bodily injury to either a passenger, another driver or a pedestrian can greatly enhance the penalties of a DUI charge. Bodily injury is considered an injury that does one of the following:
- Causes permanent or serious disfigurement
- Substantially increases the risk of death
- Causes impairment or loss of a body part or organ
When bodily injury results from a DUI accident, the responsible driver will be charged with a felony and face up to 15 years in jail. If the incident results in a death, the person could face up to 25 years in prison as well as fines of up to $25,100. That death could be immediate or a court could take into consideration a death that happens as the result of the injuries caused by the accident.
- Habitual offenses
Habitual offenders may also face increasingly harsh criminal penalties. Three or more convictions over the course of a three-year period could result in any charges associated with the act itself as well as license revocation for at least five years.
At Nosal & Jeter, LLP our goal is to help clients understand the charges they face and develop ways to protect their freedom. Call us at 803-351-3597 for help you with your case today.