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Is DUI a Felony in South Carolina? 2024

Is DUI a Felony in South Carolina? 2024
Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a serious criminal offense under state law, and a defendant convicted of this offense can face a wide range of immediate and long-term penalties. Like most other criminal offenses, it is possible for a DUI to be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the specific details of the case. If you are concerned about the impending case against you, it is vital that you consult a DUI attorney in Myrtle Beach, SC, as soon as possible.

The right defense attorney can potentially mean the difference between conviction and acquittal in any criminal case. It’s important to remember that even if the prosecution’s case against you seems airtight at first, a good attorney will know how to challenge the foundation of the prosecution’s evidence and identify all the potential avenues of defense available to you.

Understanding DUI Charges

It’s possible for a driver to face a DUI conviction for operating their vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When it comes to intoxication by alcohol, drivers will be required to submit to chemical testing to check their blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). The legal limit is .08%, and anything over this level qualifies as a DUI, even .081%. When it comes to intoxication by drugs, a police officer may secure a warrant to take a blood sample from the arrested driver.

A police officer must establish probable cause before conducting a traffic stop for suspected DUI. They may notice a driver moving erratically or committing a moving violation, and once they stop the suspect, they might see open alcohol containers in their vehicle and/or detect the smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath. All drivers give their implied consent to DUI testing when they use their driver’s license, and refusal to submit to a chemical test will lead to an automatic administrative suspension of their driver’s license as well as increased penalties if they are later convicted of DUI.

When it comes to misdemeanor and felony-level DUIs, several factors can determine which level of offense the defendant faces. Most first-time DUI offenses are prosecuted as misdemeanors, but a repeat offender or a driver who has caused a serious accident is likely to face felony prosecution. After an arrest for DUI, it is vital for the driver to speak with defense counsel as soon as possible. The sooner they have an experienced defense attorney working on their case, the better their chances are of avoiding conviction or, at the very least, mitigating the penalties they face.


Q: What Is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and Felony DUI?

A: At the misdemeanor level, a DUI conviction can involve penalties such as driver’s license suspension, fines, and jail time in county jail. At the felony level, these penalties increase dramatically. They not only face heavier fines and a longer driver’s license suspension but also incarceration in state prison. A first-time offense is typically charged as a misdemeanor, but the defendant may face a felony charge if they caused severe bodily injury or death with their actions.

Q: What Is the New DUI Law?

A: A newly signed law in South Carolina will take effect as of May 2024. This new law will require that anyone convicted of DUI in the state must have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their vehicle. They must have this device installed for six months following their first DUI conviction and for one year following a second conviction. The device requires the driver to blow into it before the vehicle will start, and if their BAC registers at .02% or more, the vehicle will not start. The vehicle will also require more breath samples at random intervals while driving to ensure the driver has not started drinking after starting the vehicle with a clean breath sample.

Q: What Are the Penalties for a Felony DUI?

A: If a driver commits a third DUI offense within a few years, or if they cause an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death, they are likely to face felony prosecution. Penalties for felony DUI could include very heavy fines, as much as $21,000 if they caused great bodily injury and as much as $52,000 if they caused death, imprisonment in state prison from 30 days to 15 years for great bodily injury or one to 25 years for causing death. The defendant may also have their driver’s license revoked for several years or permanently.

Q: How Do I Defend Against a DUI Charge?

A: An experienced criminal defense attorney can help determine the most viable defenses available to you in your impending DUI case. It’s possible to challenge the grounds upon which the arresting officer established probable cause, citing due process violations, or prove that an arresting officer violated your civil or constitutional rights. It is also possible to prove that your chemical test was administered incorrectly or that your sample was compromised in some way.

Q: Why Should I Hire a DUI Defense Attorney?

A: Any DUI conviction can have extensive negative effects on your future. You may not only face a host of immediate penalties but also a wide range of long-term consequences that may not be immediately apparent. Whether you have been wrongfully arrested for a DUI offense you did not commit or you did break the law and need help mitigating your sentence, the right defense attorney on your side can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your impending case.

The team at Axelrod & Associates, P.A., can provide compassionate and responsive defense counsel for your impending DUI case in Myrtle Beach or elsewhere in the state. Our team has years of professional experience handling the toughest DUI cases in the state, and we are ready to put this experience to work for you. Contact our firm today to schedule your consultation with a DUI defense attorney and learn how we can help you approach your case with peace of mind.

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