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Man facing charges of felony DUI after passenger dies

A 20-year-old man is facing charges in South Carolina of felony DUI resulting in death in connection with an accident that occurred at about 4 a.m. on March 7. The crash happened in the 500 block of Veterans Road in Columbia, according to a Columbia Police Department representative, and resulted in the death of a passenger in the vehicle.

Authorities said the man was traveling at a high speed when he went off the road and hit a tree, striking it with the passenger side of the vehicle. Both the driver and a 17-year-old passenger were extricated from the vehicle and transported to the hospital. According to the Richland County coroner, another passenger, a 21-year-old man, died from injuries suffered in the crash. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Drunk driving charges coupled severe bodily injury or death to another person is considered a felony, according to the Code of Laws of South Carolina. A minimum fine of $5100 with a maximum of $10,100 may be imposed. If death occurs as a result of the driver's actions, a jail sentence of not less than one year or more than 25 years is mandated.

A charge of DUI must be proven by prosecutors beyond a reasonable doubt. They often rely on verifiable tests done in a timely manner. A Breathalyzer test may be done at the scene of an accident to document the driver's blood alcohol content a short time after the crash occurred. Blood tests might be drawn to further establish alcohol levels or the presence of drugs. If errors are made in documentation of alcohol or drug levels, the charges may be disputed in court.

An attorney may assist a driver review the charges against them and evaluate them for error. An attorney may also negotiate a plea agreement that might lower charges and penalties.

Source: The State, "20-year-old charged with felony DUI after fatal crash ", Anne-Kathryn Flanagan, March 07, 2014

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