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Understanding what constitutes a felony DUI charge

Although drinking and driving is a known danger, it is still a problem on the roadways in South Carolina and elsewhere. Because authorities seek to crack down on this violation and danger on the roadways, serious penalties were implemented for offenders. However, in order for a driver to be charged with a DUI, probable cause and evidence that asserts reasonable suspicion must be collected. In matters where a suspected drunk driver causes an accident, authorities still need to go through the process to prove that alcohol was a factor in an accident.

While a DUI can carry with it serious penalties, a felony DUI is a very serious predicament to be in. This charge carries harsher penalties as well as consequences that could be long lasting. Thus, it is important to understand what could elevate the charge to a felony and how best to initiate a criminal defense against the charges.

A felony DUI could result in one of five situations. First, a driver with an elevated blood alcohol concentration level could face a felony charge if his or her BAC level is high enough past the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Not all states have this law, but most penalize a motorist for having a high BAC. Second, a felony DUI could result in a drunk driving accident that results in bodily harm. If the intoxicated driver is allegedly at fault, this could result in a misdemeanor or a felony charge.

Another way to face a felony DUI is by having prior convictions. Past DUIs on your driving record may result in a motorist facing harsher penalties. Next, if children were in the vehicle at the time of the DUI charge, a motorist could face a felony charge. This is often dependent on the BAC level of the driver and the age of the child. Finally, a driver could face a felony DUI charge if they face a drunk driving offense while they have a restricted, suspended or revoked license.

While a drunk driving charge seems like a minor offense, it is certainly one that could turn into a serious charge that carries with it harsh penalties. Therefore, it is important to understand what evidence is being used against you and what defense mechanisms you could use to reduce or even dismiss the charge against you.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Felony DUI," accessed Sept. 10, 2017

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