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Both parties allegedly fled scene of fatal drunk driving accident

A 31-year-old man faces felony drunk driving charges after a crash that left one South Carolina man dead and another passenger in the hospital. The suspect reportedly left a night club and soon after got into a wreck with a semi truck on I-95. A 41-year-old male who was riding in the car died, and a second passenger was thrown out of the vehicle. Emergency medical responders flew the latter passenger to Memorial University Medical Center. There is no word on the condition of the patient.

The truck driver drove away from the site and his or her whereabouts are unknown. The driver of the car flagged down a passing vehicle and faces charges of leaving the scene, as well as charges of driving without a license, in addition to the DUI charges.

In South Carolina it is possible to face either misdemeanor or felony drunk driving charges. A felony conviction is of course more serious, and may be sought when a person has been injured or killed. When a DUI crash is fatal, the driver may receive a prison sentence of up to 25 years. Driving drunk in some states without a valid license may also be a felony DUI, especially if the driver's previous license was suspended or revoked. A particularly high blood alcohol content level can trigger felony DUI charges as well, as can already having one or multiple convictions.

Note that in South Carolina, a felony DUI conviction requires authorities to prove that the driver was at fault in the accident. It is not enough that the defendant driver be intoxicated if the defendant driver was not also at fault. It is unclear in the present case how much the defendant allegedly had to drink or why he did not have a drivers' license.

Source: WTOC 11, "Jasper County man killed in DUI crash," Nov. 19, 2012

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