3 Factors that Can Turn a DUI into a Felony DUI

Anybody who has been convicted of DUI will tell you how scary it can be. It’s like that one mistake will haunt them forever. It will remain on your criminal history as well as your driving abstract. If a potential employer runs a criminal background check, your DUI conviction will come up. Some companies won’t hire somebody with a DUI on their record. If a regular DUI can cause these types of problems, you can only imagine what happens with a felony DUI. 

A DUI defense lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina who meets with clients every month who have been charged with these enhanced charges knows that not only are people scared, but they are sometimes in denial.

Here, we’ll discuss the three factors that can turn a regular DUI into a felony DUI. Not only does this mean your charges are more serious. It also means your penalties will be much harsher than they are for a run-of-the-mill, misdemeanor DUI. 

Our DUI defense lawyers in Greenville, South Carolina always do whatever we can to help our clients avoid serious penalties. We will try to get felony DUI charges reduced or dismissed. If that isn’t possible, we’ll at least try to negotiate a favorable plea with the prosecutor. If you’ve recently been charged with felony DUI in South Carolina, contact our office immediately. There is way too much at stake to try to handle this on your own. 

A Conviction for DUI in South Carolina is Always a Serious Matter

Being convicted of any DUI offense is a serious matter. Even a first offense DUI conviction carries with it heavy fines, a driver’s license suspension, and possible jail time. However, when one considers the consequences associated with a felony DUI conviction, it can be terrifying. If you’re convicted of felony DUI, you’ll be facing the following penalties:

  • If you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol and get into an accident that causes serious bodily injury, you’ll be looking at the following:
    • Fines anywhere from $5,100 to $10,100
    • Minimum of 30 days in jail
    • Potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison
  • If you’re under the influence and get into an accident causing the death of another person, these penalties are doubled:
    • Fines of up to $25,100 
    • Minimum of 1 year in jail
    • Up to 25 years in prison

As one can imagine, these penalties are life changing. However, given the damage one has caused in this sort of accident, they are warranted. The goal of your DUI defense lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina is to keep you from being convicted in the first place. 

You’ll Be Charged with a Felony DUI if You Had Children in the Car at the Time of Arrest

If you get pulled over for DUI, one of the first things the officers will do is check to see if there are any passengers in the vehicle. If there happen to be children under the age of 16 in your car at the time of your arrest, you’re in big trouble. 

In South Carolina, anybody who is caught drinking and driving with kids in their car will be charged with felony DUI. While the penalties may not be as bad as they are for someone who kills somebody in a drunk driving crash, they are steep. 

DUI defense lawyer in Greenville

Anyone found to be driving under the influence with young people in their car will face two types of charges. First, they’ll face the regular penalties associated with a misdemeanor DUI. On top of that, they’ll face the penalties for the crime of child endangerment.

What your criminal defense lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina will have to do is poke holes in the State’s case. Perhaps they can prove that the people in the car with you were over the age of 16. Or they may be able to prove that you weren’t under the influence in the first place. 

If You’re Drunk or High and Cause a Serious Accident, You’ll Be Charged with Felony DUI

Obviously, if you get into an accident while drunk driving, the penalties will be tremendous. This is especially true if the accident causes great bodily harm to any third party. This includes a passenger in your vehicle as well as people in the other vehicle. It can also include a bystander or pedestrian. 

According to South Carolina law, serious bodily injury is described as any injury that results in a long-term impairment of a body part or organ. It also includes any injuries that could have caused the death of the victim.

Since the prosecutor can argue that any injury can lead to long-term impairment, it’s safe to assume that any drunk driving accident will carry a felony DUI charge with it. What your DUI defense lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina will do is argue that the victim’s injuries were not as serious as the State made them out to be. Or they can show that you were not above the legal limit at the time of the crash.

Your Third Conviction for DUI in South Carolina Will Be Considered a Felony DUI

One other factor that can lead to a felony DUI is a person’s being charged with DUI for the third time. If you have two prior convictions for DUI, then your third one will be considered a felony. The penalties are not all that much more serious than they are for a second offense. 

However, having a felony DUI on your record is a lot worse than having a misdemeanor on there. If you ever apply for a job or certification, they could deny you based on your criminal record. This is why it’s so important that you hire an experienced DUI defense lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina. This will give you the best chance of having the charges against you reduced or dismissed. 

Your DUI Defense Lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina Will Have Their Work Cut Out for Them

If you or your loved one have recently been charged with felony DUI in South Carolina, you need our help. Depending on the facts surrounding your case, there is a good chance you’re facing prison time. For example, if you were driving under the influence and killed somebody, you could go to prison for up to 25 years. By the time you get out, half of your life may have passed you by.

Rather than risking this, it’s a good idea to contact a criminal defense lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina. They’ll do their best to get the felony DUI charges against you dropped or reduced.

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