Driving under influence (DUI) offenses in South Carolina carry increasingly heavier penalties for each successive offense. The penalties are relatively light for the first DUI offense. They get serious with the second offense and add up for subsequent offenses. DUI penalties are meant to prevent DUI-related hazards, accidents and fatalities on the road. Back in 2018, South Carolina ranked as the 2nd worst state for drunk driving accidents. This is why if you are found driving under influence and also posing a risk of bodily harm, injury or death to another, you may have to deal with penalties for aggravated DUI.
What is Aggravated DUI?
Aggravated DUI refers to a case where a DUI charge is enhanced. This is typically done if the person who is found to be DUI is also found guilty of committing other forms of negligence. Following are some scenarios where a driver may face aggravated DUI charges:
- Very High BAC: South Carolina has a standard legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08%. If you are found with BAC that is significantly above this limit, you may be charged with aggravated DUI instead of regular DUI. Typically, if your BAC is above 0.10%, you can expect to face stiffer penalties. If the BAC is even higher, say above 0.16%, the penalties may reach an even higher level.
- Previous DUI Convictions: If you have been convicted of DUI twice or more in the past ten years, you may be charged with aggravated DUI. In such a case, you can expect the misdemeanor charges to become a felony charge and carry a stiffer punishment.
- Child Endangerment: If you had minors in the car at the time of a DUI arrest, you are very likely to be charged with aggravated DUI. A minor in South Carolina is anyone under the age of 16.
- Above Speed Limit: You may also face enhanced DUI penalties if you are found DUI while driving 20 – 30 miles per hour above the designated speed limit.
- Suspended License: Aggravated DUI charges may also be brought up against a driver whose license has previously been suspended or revoked.
- Bodily Harm or Death: If your drunk driving caused great bodily harm or death to another person, even if the other person was a passenger in your vehicle, you may face enhanced DUI charges.
Penalties for Aggravated DUI
The penalties for aggravated DUI vary from case to case. The most decisive factor usually is the nature of the circumstances that led to enhanced DUI charges. However, a Greenwood, SC DUI attorney will best be able to advice you on what penalties apply in a particular case.
Bodily Injury or Death
If a DUI driver causes an accident leading to great bodily harm, he or she may face up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,100. This is regardless of the count of the DUI offense. Even if it was the first offense, the charges will be enhanced. Similarly, if the driver caused the death of another person, the charges become more serious. In such a case, the driver may face up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,100.
If the aggravated DUI has been caused by child endangerment, you may face the following additional penalties:
- An addition of prison term that is one-half the original imprisonment term mandated by the DUI charge
- An addition of fine that is one-half the amount of the original fine mandated by the original DUI charge
- A minimum license suspension of 60 days.
Exceptionally High BAC
If your BAC results show that your alcohol levels are way above the legal limit of 0.08%, you will face aggravated DUI charges. Punishment for first offense in this case is up to 1 month in prison and a $500 fine for BAC from 0.10% to 0.16%. For BAC above 0.16%, jail time is up to 3 months with a $1,000 fine. Similarly, for second DUI offense with high BAC, punishment is up to 2 years in jail and a fine of $5,500 for BAC from 0.10% to 0.16%. For BAC above 0.16%, the jail time is up to 3 years with a fine of up to $6,500.
Hiring a DUI Attorney in Greenwood, SC
If you have been arrested and charged with aggravated DUI, it is time to seek a lawyer. Here at ASB Law, our highly qualified DUI defense attorneys in Greenwood, SC work with you to lessen the penalties you’ll have to face. Contact us today to book a FREE consultation with our attorneys.