A Spartanburg woman has been charged with Felony DUI causing death after a crash that killed a man. The crash occurred in Spartanburg, 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.