A South Carolina DUI auto accident resulted in a tragic loss of life and felony charges for one driver. 24 year old Destiny Mills was driving under the influence of alcohol, causing her to rear-end the vehicle of 21 year old Olivia Johnson, who was ejected from the vehicle and killed. Two others were injured and transported to the hospital from Johnson’s vehicle. Mills was indicted of a felony DUI resulting in death charge in December. She was released on a $100K bond and requirement to wear an alcohol monitor to track consumption. She has not been formally convicted, though she will likely face penalties on a civil and criminal level.
South Carolina Felony DUI Charges
South Carolina Code of Laws Title 56, Chapter 5, Section 56-5-2945 states that a felony DUI offense occurs when a motor vehicle is driven by a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and neglects their legal duties in a way that results in death or great bodily injury. It also indicates that this offense, when resulting in death, is punishable by a mandatory fine of $10,100 to $25, 100 and at least one year in jail, not to exceed 25 years. The person who is convicted of this crime must also surrender their license for five years beyond their period of incarceration. The mandatory minimum sentence cannot be reduced, suspended, or replaced with probation.
The Role of Prosecution in Felony DUI Charges
The role of the prosecution in a South Carolina felony DUI case is to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The defendant is not charged with proving their own innocence, but with defending themselves against the prosecutions attempts to prove guilt. Three things must be proven for a felony conviction of DUI resulting in death:
1) The defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
2) The defendant acted negligently because of the alcohol or drugs (e.g. running a stop light)
3) The negligent behavior caused the accident, resulting in death.
Thus, it takes more than evidence of the defendant being intoxicated at the time of the accident. It takes more than proving that this is what caused the accident. Both must be proven to convict. Thus, it is essential to build a strong defense to the prosecution’s claims. If the allegedly at-fault driver is convicted, the penalties are severe and the conviction will remain on the permanent criminal record of the defendant. This means that housing and employment opportunities could be denied, as could educational opportunities and much more.
South Carolina Felony DUI Charge Defense
If you are the defendant in a case where there is proof that you were intoxicated at the time of an accident and that your negligence caused the accident, you may be confused by the process ahead of you and how to defend yourself and build a case. There are multiple options for defense.
One option to defend a felony DUI is to demonstrate that intoxication did not cause your negligence. You may be able to call into question the validity of any blood or breath alcohol test results, and you may argue that distraction, or another factor contributed to the negligence.
A second defense option is that although you were intoxicated, this did not cause the accident. It may be that the accident was caused by another driver, and this could allow for the felony DUI charges to be dropped or reduced.
Finally, a lack of knowledge of impairment could be a valid defense in your case. For example, if you were on prescription medications that impaired your ability to drive, but you were unaware of this impairment, then it may not be appropriate to face criminal charges.
Taking Action Right Away Can Make a Difference
If you’re facing the very serious charges and implications of a felony DUI resulting in death, you need to take action right away. This is a sensitive matter, and you should avoid giving any statements without speaking to an experienced DUI attorney in South Carolina. You may feel overwhelmed and out of hope, but the right criminal defense lawyer could make the difference.
Seek A Free Consultation From The Michael Jeffcoat Firm
People make bad decisions, and terrible things happen. You may be in one of the most difficult places of your life as you face felony DUI charges resulting in death in South Carolina, but things can get much brighter with the right legal representation. Contact the dedicated South Carolina DUI attorneys with the Michael Jeffcoat Firm today for a free consultation of your case, and to discuss the options that are open to you.
Mr. Jeffcoat, a native of the Columbia area, founded the law firm in 1999. Mr. Jeffcoat got his undergraduate degree at Wofford College in 1994, majoring in Political Economy and Philosophy, and then went to the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he received his J.D. in 1997. After working in two law firms following his graduation from law school, Jeffcoat ventured out on his own to launch The Jeffcoat Firm in March of 1999.