Mother Charged with “Drunk Driving:” What is “Materially and Appreciably Impaired” in South Carolina?

Rock Hill, SC police report that a mother was charged with drunk driving after her 11-year-old daughter called them and reported that her mom was swerving and almost hit two cars on her way home from a restaurant.SC DUI Lawyer

She was charged with Driving Under the Influence and Child Endangerment, and reported to the police that she had several beers earlier that day, finishing the evening with two margaritas at the restaurant.  She was being held in York County and was released on a $2500 bond.

A DUI charge in South Carolina can initiate a hefty fine or even imprisonment.  Under S.C. Code Ann. §56-5-2930:

(A)  “It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired, under the influence of any other drug or a combination of other drugs or substances which cause impairment to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired, or under the combined influence of alcohol and any other drug or drugs or substances which cause impairment to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of the offense of driving under the influence and, upon conviction; entry of a plea of guilty or of nolo contendere, or forfeiture of bail must be punished as follows:

(1)   for a first offense, by a fine of four hundred dollars or imprisonment for not less than forty-eight hours nor more than thirty days. However, in lieu of the forty-eight hour minimum imprisonment, the court may provide for forty-eight hours of public service employment.

(2)   “For a second offense, by a fine of not less than two thousand one hundred dollars nor more than five thousand one hundred dollars, and imprisonment for not less than five days nor more than one year.

(3)   for a third offense, by a fine of not less than three thousand eight hundred dollars nor more than six thousand three hundred dollars, and imprisonment for not less than sixty days nor more than three years.

However, if you add Child Endangerment to the DUI charges, the fines and potential imprisonment terms increase.  Upon conviction the person must be punished by: (A) a fine of not more than one-half of the maximum fine allowed for committing the violation enumerated in subsection (A)(1), when the person is fined for that offense;

(B) a term of imprisonment of not more than one-half of the maximum term of imprisonment allowed for committing the violation enumerated in subsection (A)(1), when the person is imprisoned for the offense; or

(C) both a fine and imprisonment as prescribed in items (1) and (2) when the person is fined and imprisoned for the offense.

Therefore, when a person is driving under the influence, their charges can increase exponentially if there is a child in the vehicle.  Also, the potential for a collision is much greater. This may even increase the charge to Child Endangerment to Vehicular Manslaughter if a child in the car is killed.  A charge of Vehicular Manslaughter increases the charge of DUI to a Felony DUI.

If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI or another alcohol related offense, make sure to call people who can help you try to mitigate the charges.  The law offices of Reeves Aiken & Hightower, LLP can help you.  You can give us a call at our Baxter Village, South Carolina office at 803-548-4444, or toll-free at 877-374-5999.  Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated can have some serious repercussions, and we want to make sure you can get your life back on the right path.

York SC Man Charged with Felony DUI After Resulting Death

A 19-year-old man from York, South Carolina, has been charged with one count of Felony DUI resulting in death, two counts of felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury and driving joe-alcohol in jail cellunder a suspended license.  This is the second DUI for the man this year.

Police report that the man swerved from the right side of the road, struck a tree causing the car to flip over ejecting all four of the passengers.  One of the passengers, an 18 year old Clover girl, was killed.  The other passengers were taken to the hospital; however, they were not seriously injured.

This is a real situation that can demonstrate the charges a driver can face if they drive while under the influence.   If people are injured or killed as a result of a DUI, the driver will be held accountable for such actions through the court system and face serious criminal charges. Felony DUI resulting in Death carries a possibility of up to 25 years in prison.  The following illustrates the South Carolina Code of Laws with regard to Felony DUI:

56-5-2945. 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 a person other than himself, 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.

The Department of Motor Vehicles must suspend the driver’s license of a person who is convicted or who receives sentence upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere pursuant to this section for a period to include a period of incarceration plus three years for a conviction of Section 56-5-2945 when “great bodily injury” occurs and five years when a death occurs. This period of incarceration shall not include any portion of a suspended sentence such as probation, parole, supervised furlough, or community supervision. For suspension purposes of this section, convictions arising out of a single incident shall run concurrently.

(C) 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.

If you or someone you know has been charged with any crime, call the South Carolina criminal defense attorneys of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower at 877-374-5999 for a confidential consultation.

Alleged Drunk Driver Responsible for Death of Two Motorcyclists

A man and a woman, who were struck by an alleged drunk driver, have been identified by the pastor of a South Carolina church.  Both worked at the South Carolina StudentMotorcycle Accident Attorney Loan Office in Columbia.  Further, the man was a chaplain’s assistant at Fort Jackson for three years.  Both of the victims were driving motorcycles at the time.

The drunk driver was cruising in a 2008 Saturn south on U.S. 21 at around 7 p.m., when the vehicle crossed the center line and struck the two oncoming bikes.  The man’s bond was set for just over $30,000, which was so high because he has prior charges and was driving without a license.  The prior was a marijuana possession and disorderly conduct.

If you or someone close to you has been charged with DUI in South Carolina, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP for a consultation.  You can reach our Baxter Village office located in Fort Mill, South Carolina at 803-548-4444, or toll-free at 877-374-5999.

SC Bus Driver Charged with DUI

A Richland, South Carolina woman, who was the operator of a local school bus, has been charged with DWI as she was on her way to transportcred03 students to school.  According to the police report, the bus driver lost control of the school bus while she was driving, which is what caused the police officers to investigate further.   Fortunately, the bus driver was the only person within the school bus at the time of the accident.  This accident is reported to have occurred at 9:10 a.m. in the morning.

When officers suspected the operator of having been intoxicated at the time of the accident, they thereafter decided to administer a breath-test. When the woman blew into the breathalyzer, the device registered a .17 alcohol content, which is more than double the legal limit in South Carolina.  When questioned by the police, the woman stated that she did not have anything to drink that morning; however, she did consume an entire box of wine the previous night.   She is being charged with DUI and Child Endangerment.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DWI or drinking related crime, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP for a consultation.  You can reach our Baxter Village office located in Fort Mill, South Carolina at 803-548-4444, or toll-free at 877-374-5999.

South Carolina Woman Charged with Felony DUI After Death of Passenger: South Carolina DUI With Great Bodily Injury Law

A Spartanburg woman has been charged with Felony DUI causing death after a crash that killed a man.  The crash occurred in Spartanburg,other car crashed and troopers say that the 64-year-old woman was driving south when she flew off the road, hit a tree, and killed her 59-year-old passenger.

She was arrested and charged with felony driving under the influence, according to the troopers.  She is being detained at the Spartanburg County Detention Center, while the crash continues to be investigated by the SC Highway Patrol.

Felony DUI charges usually apply when a DUI offense has been accompanied by an accident which resulted in great bodily injury, or the death of another driver, or passenger.  If a person is being accused of committing such a DUI offense, it is likely that the charge will result in a felony.  Under South Carolina Code 56-5-2945, “great bodily injury” is defined as “any bodily injury that either causes great risk of death, or causes serious permanent disfigurement to any part of a person’s body.”

One who has been charged with Felony DUI as a result of the death of another driver or passenger will likely face even more serious charges.  In the state of South Carolina, there were over 300 fatalities in 2011 involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations over the legal limit.  This makes up about 40% of the traffic fatalities in the state.

A person who has been charged with DUI resulting in “great bodily injury” may face 30 days to 15 years in prison, fines between $5000 and $10,000, and drivers license suspension during the jail-time in addition to three years.

Next, if the driver being charged has been involved in a DUI resulting in death, they may spend 1 to 25 years in prison, be assessed a mandatory fine of $10,000 to 25,000, and license suspension during the jail-time plus 5 years.

The following is the statute that speaks to DUI resulting in “great bodily injury:”

56-5-2945. 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 a person other than himself, 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.

The Department of Motor Vehicles must suspend the driver’s license of a person who is convicted or who receives sentence upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere pursuant to this section for a period to include a period of incarceration plus three years for a conviction of Section 56-5-2945 when “great bodily injury” occurs and five years when a death occurs. This period of incarceration shall not include any portion of a suspended sentence such as probation, parole, supervised furlough, or community supervision. For suspension purposes of this section, convictions arising out of a single incident shall run concurrently.

(C) 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.

The moral of the story here is that South Carolina does not take it easy on DUI offenders. The State is especially tough on Felony DUI cases.  Therefore, it is imperative for you to retain a competent lawyer to handle your case.  At the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP we have over 75 years of combined experience in assisting clients with concerns and problems.  Give us a call at our Baxter Village office located in Fort Mill, South Carolina at 803-548-4444, or toll-free at 877-374-5999.