Driving intoxicated is a severe offense in Orangeburg, South Carolina. If the court convicts you, you will face stiff penalties, including fines and imprisonment. However, this crime gets worse if someone dies because of drunk driving. Here, the local DA may charge you for more than driving under the influence. Whatever the case, it’s best to hire an Orangeburg DUI attorney. An experienced lawyer can evaluate your case and advise you on any available defenses.
What Happens If Someone Dies Because I Was Driving Intoxicated?
If you kill someone while driving intoxicated, South Carolina will take criminal and administrative steps against you. Furthermore, the deceased’s family may file a civil case against you.
Felony DUI Charges
Killing someone with your car when driving intoxicated is a felony in Orangeburg, SC. This is also the case where you cause great bodily harm to the victim. However, the local district attorney mustn’t charge you for this offense. They can only charge you if they prove an extra DUI element. The additional element is that, while driving intoxicated, you must also:
- Commit any act forbidden by law, or
- Neglect any duty imposed by law.
So, the DA will have to prove that you breached any other driving laws in addition to your DUI. However, if the DA succeeds and the court convicts you, you can face:
- A mandatory fine from $10,100 to $25,100, and
- A mandatory jail term of one to twenty-five years
The provisions above mean that you cannot escape imprisonment upon conviction for driving intoxicated. Furthermore, the law states that the compulsory jail term cannot be suspended. In addition, you will not be granted probation for any portion.
The State of South Carolina will still take administrative steps against you if the court convicts you. For instance, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend your driver’s license. However, if you receive multiple convictions from a single incident, they’ll run concurrently.
Furthermore, after your release from prison, you must:
- Enroll in the Ignition Interlock Device Program, and
- Obtain an ignition interlock restricted license.
Finally, this ignition interlock device will remain on your car for five years.
Possible Defences to Felony DUI Charges in Orangeburg
There are available defenses for practically all offenses. If the DA starts prosecuting you for a felony DUI, your attorney can argue the following defenses in court.
- Unlawfully Obtained Evidence: It isn’t sufficient that the prosecution has evidence proving your guilt. If they obtained such evidence illegally, the court wouldn’t accept it. This includes cases where they tested your blood alcohol without justification.
- Lack of Relation to Intoxication: If you can prove that neither drugs nor alcohol caused your crash, you can escape a conviction. However, you’ll have to identify the external factors that caused the accident and death.
- Pre-Existing Condition: Your lawyer can also convince the court that the accident resulted from a pre-existing medical condition you suffer from. As you expect, it has to be an actual disease that the court can see from your medical records.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Your woes as a drunk driver may not be over with after a felony DUI conviction. If you kill a person, the deceased’s estate can file a civil claim against you for wrongful death. Wrongful death is death that results from the negligence, carelessness, or recklessness of others. Therefore, a DUI death is the perfect wrongful death case.
Fortunately for you, the civil court may not admit your conviction as evidence in the wrongful death case. However, if the district attorney proved a manslaughter case against you, the deceased’s estate can also prove a wrongful death claim. This is because the standard of proof for civil lawsuits is lower.
The decedent’s estate can file a claim against you or your insurance company. If they win, they can receive a wide range of damages. Their recoverable damages include both economic and non-economic losses. Here, you may need an experienced personal injury lawyer to defend you if the case gets to court.
Orangeburg DUI Lawyers Can Find a Way Out!
An arrest for a felony DUI doesn’t guarantee an automatic conviction. However, if you’ll escape jail, you’ll need the best Orangeburg DUI attorneys. An excellent lawyer can exploit any of the available defenses for a felony DUI for your benefit. Furthermore, the DA has the challenging task of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Our lawyers have multiple years of experience defending DUI arrestees in Orangeburg. In addition, we have recorded significant successes. Therefore, we’ll make an excellent choice for your DUI defense team. So, call us today to talk about that DUI arrest in Orangeburg.