Yes, It Can Get Worse: 5 Aggravating Factors That Can Lead To Harsher DUI Penalties

On its own, a DUI can lead to huge monetary fines, the loss of your license, community service, and even jail time—not to mention how it can affect aspects of your personal life like your job or your insurance rates.

Nobody wants to face the strife of a DUI conviction, but as bad as these penalties seem, there are ways a DUI can get even worse.

In South Carolina, certain aggravating factors can lead to even harsher penalties such as longer mandatory jail sentences and much higher fees. We’ve listed some of these factors below:

Prior Convictions

If you’ve previously been convicted of a DUI within the past 10 years, then you are at a very high risk for far stiffer punishments if you get caught again.  Your second DUI offense will mean between 5 days and 3 years of jail time, a one-year license suspension, and a fine between $2100 and $6500. Your third offense results in 60 days to 5 years in jail, a two-year suspension of your license, and fines as high as $10,000. Both second and third-time offenders will also have to drive with an Ignition Interlock Device installed on their car at their own expense that requires them to blow below a certain BAC before the car will start.

If you are ever convicted of a 4th offense you’ll permanently lose your license, have to pay up to $10,000, and face between 1 and 7 years in jail. In short, one DUI is bad enough—don’t risk making it even worse.

Property Damage or Bodily Harm

If, in the act of driving under the influence, you cause property damage or bodily harm to others, you could be facing much worse than a standard DUI conviction. Of course, it depends on how much damage was done as to what your penalty will be, but you could face years of mandatory jail time and tens of thousands of dollars in fines if your DUI resulted in destruction or caused injury. It could also mean the difference between a felony DUI and a misdemeanor DUI in the State of South Carolina. This aggravating factor also applies to single-car accidents where bodily harm comes to any of your passengers.

Endangering A Child  

In South Carolina, if you are over the age of 18 and operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol while there are one or more passengers present who are 16 or younger, you can be charged with child endangerment on top of your DUI. This would include a fine of up to half the cost of your DUI fine and jail time up to half of the maximum sentence for your DUI.

High BAC

A standard DUI occurs when your blood-alcohol content registers at 0.08 or higher. However, if your BAC is 0.16 or higher you will be charged with aggravated DUI. Also known as an “extreme DUI,” those who are caught drinking and driving with seriously high BAC levels will be subject to enhanced penalties of, you guessed it, more jail time and higher fees.
Other mitigating circumstances such as having an open container in the car, driving without a driver’s license, or driving at excessive speeds while impaired can also lead to harsher penalties when combined with a DUI. A DUI conviction is always bad, but make sure you don’t make things worse by committing any of the above aggravating factors and piling on top of an already difficult situation. And if you’re facing a DUI along with any of the aforementioned issues, be sure to give us a call and discuss your options.

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Written by Greg McCollum CLDT

Greg McCollum CLDT

At the Complete Legal Defense Team we represent, assist, and defend people who are accused of crimes. Being accused of a crime is a harrowing experience. You experience public shame and humiliation and do not know where to turn for help. We are experienced and knowledgeable and will take immediate steps to begin repairing your life. We evaluate how the allegation affects your reputation in the community, how it affects your time and your life, and how it will affect you financially. Believe it or not, many people who are arrested and charged with crimes are innocent.