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What will make my DUI punishments worse?

A DUI conviction could result in severe criminal penalties like jail time, probation, hefty fines, license suspensions and community service punishments. Depending on the facts surrounding a South Carolina resident's DUI arrest, the penalties could be made worse. In this regard, what circumstances serve to elevate the severity of DUI punishments?

First, drivers who have a history of prior DUI arrests and violations could be subjected to harsher penalties. If the motorist was driving a commercial vehicle when he or she got arrested, then the penalties will also be more severe. If children are present inside a vehicle at the time of arrest, this will serve to elevate punishments in the event of a conviction, too.

If a driver is accused of causing a car accident, reckless driving, speeding or committing some other kind of moving violation while DUI, this is sufficient cause to elevate punishments. If a DUI was combined with an injurious or fatal car accident, the penalties could involve very lengthy jail sentences. Indeed, it is not unheard of for an individual to be sent to prison for five or 10 years after being found guilty of causing a DUI-related death.

It is important for South Carolina residents to keep in mind potential punishments whenever they are defending themselves against DUI charges. In some situations, it may be more advantageous -- for example -- to plead guilty to one charge that comes with a lesser punishment, in exchange for getting a more severe charge dropped or dismissed. Conversely, if it is possible to cast sufficient doubt on the prosecution's version of the facts, those charged with DUI may choose to plead not guilty.

Source: Findlaw, "DUI offense basics," accessed April. 10, 2015

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