Not All DUI Charges Are Misdemeanors. Here’s How a DUI Can Become a Felony

DUI charges are not all the same, and depending on the circumstances, a DUI might be treated as a felony, rather than a misdemeanor. Even generally, DUIs are serious. What appears to be a minor infraction can suddenly snowball into a significant legal situation.

Let’s discuss the potential consequences of a DUI and how a single mistake may have serious consequences, especially if you’re charged with a felony DUI.

When charged with DUI, your best bet is to reach out to a capable DUI defense lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina from the Bateman Law Firm for help in navigating the legal system and defending your rights.

What Is a DUI Charge?

A DUI occurs when a person is in physical control of a motor vehicle when their blood alcohol content (BAC) is at or over the legal limit, which is commonly 0.08%.

DUI charges are normally considered misdemeanors and entail consequences such as fines, license suspension, or possibly jail time.

Yet, some circumstances might result in a DUI becoming a felony charge, such as:

  • A history of DUIs or other comparable offenses
  • Severe physical injury caused by a drunk driving accident
  • Driving with an extraordinarily high BAC (usually greater than 0.20%).

Ultimately it comes down to the discretion of the court, which will review all of the circumstances surrounding the case before making their decision as to whether a misdemeanor or felony charge should be applied.

What Makes DUI Either a Misdemeanor or a Felony

Whether a DUI charge is deemed a misdemeanor or a felony in Greenville, South Carolina, depends on several factors including the defendant’s criminal history, the severity of the incident, and if someone was wounded or killed as a consequence of the DUI.

Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these factors.

Criminal History

If the offender has a past DUI conviction or other criminal convictions, a second DUI offense may result in felony charges.


If the defendant’s BAC was much greater than the legal limit of 0.08%, they might face felony charges. A BAC of 0.16% or higher, for example, can result in felony charges.

Property Damage

If the defendant caused property damage while driving drunk, they could face felony charges.


If the offender injures another person while driving under the influence, they may face felony charges.

It’s important to note that every case is unique and the specific circumstances surrounding the DUI offense will determine whether the charge is a misdemeanor or felony. You must not wait to seek legal counsel if you have been charged with a DUI.

A skilled criminal defense lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina can help you navigate the legal system and defend your rights.

DUI charges can lead to heavy penalties in South Carolina

Penalties for Felony DUI Convictions

Felony DUI convictions carry even harsher punishments. The penalties for felony DUI convictions in South Carolina can include the following.

Prolonged Prison Sentences

Felony DUI convictions can result in lengthy prison sentences. If you’re convicted of a felony DUI resulting in death, you could serve up to 25 years in state prison.

Heavy Fines

Felony DUI convictions can result in high fines and court costs, which can range from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.

Alcohol/Drug Treatment Programs

Felony DUI convictions frequently necessitate the completion of a substance abuse program, which may include outpatient or inpatient treatment, counseling, and regular drug and alcohol testing.

Requirement to Use an Ignition Interlock Device

Felony DUI convictions frequently necessitate the defendant installing an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle, which requires the driver to pass a breathalyzer test before being able to use the car.

Permanent Loss of Driving Privileges

Felony DUI convictions may also result in the defendant’s driver’s license being permanently revoked, making it difficult for them to work or carry out other daily activities.

Community Service or Other Forms of Punishment

Felony DUI convictions may also result in the imposition of community service, victim impact panels, or other forms of punishment deemed appropriate by the court.

Penalties for Misdemeanour DUI Convictions

The penalties for misdemeanor DUI convictions in Greenville, South Carolina may differ depending on the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. However, these are always less severe than the penalties of a felony DUI.

Here are some of the potential penalties for a first-time misdemeanor DUI conviction in Greenville:

  • Up to $400 in fines
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Up to 48 hours of community service
  • A six-month suspension of driver’s license
  • The court may also order the defendant to complete an alcohol and drug treatment program
  • The defendant’s vehicle will be fitted with an ignition interlock device (although for a shorter duration)

See? What a big difference can it make to have your case treated as a misdemeanor rather than a felony?

Get the Help You Need From a DUI Defense Lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina!

Working with a DUI defense lawyer in Greenville is of the utmost importance in a DUI case. Your defense attorney from the Bateman Law Firm can provide you with the legal assistance and personalized guidance you need to understand your situation and obtain the best possible outcome for your case.

An attorney from our firm will thoroughly investigate your DUI charges, looking at factors like:

  • The circumstances of the arrest
  • The evidence acquired by police enforcement
  • Any witness statements received
  • Motor vehicle records.

Your DUI defense lawyer in Greenville will then build a solid legal defense plan for you based on the facts collected from reviewing your case. This tactic might include contesting specific components of the accusation or presenting mitigating circumstances that could result in lower fines.

If required, your DUI defense lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina can also negotiate a plea bargain with prosecutors, which would result in reduced fines.

Contact the Bateman Law Firm today and speak to a qualified criminal defense lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina about your case. We are dedicated to assisting you in understanding all aspects of your DUI charges and fighting for the best possible outcome.

Delay is not an option, call us today!

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