What Is an Aggravated DWI?

All charges of intoxicated driving are not the same, but if you receive more than one DWI or a severe charge such as aggravated DWI, it’s likely you need help to manage your drinking. Especially as a misdemeanor charge that only stays on your record temporarily can quickly turn into a severe and life-changing event under certain circumstances. Even the age of a passenger in your car can result in years of prison instead of a fine and short driver’s license suspension. Continue reading to learn more about the more serious charge of aggravated DWI. 

If you or a loved one need a safe place to recover from alcohol addiction, contact Myrtle Beach Recovery. Our experienced staff can help you work through each step on your journey to achieve sobriety.


The legal and financial consequences of DUI and DWI charges vary from state to state. The legal limit for intoxication also differs depending on the state of the offense. However, some states, such as South Carolina, make no distinction between DUI and DWI and refer to impaired driving as driving under the influence (DUI). 

The significant distinction is between DWI (or DUI) and aggravated DWI/DUI. While DWI and aggravated DWI carry substantial penalties, the aggravated DWI charge is much more serious. 

Aggravated DWI

A charge of aggravated DWI signifies a more enhanced violation of the impaired driving law. The offender charged with aggravated DWI is considered guilty of negligent driving while exceeding the legal blood alcohol limit. This charge typically reflects a driver’s endangerment of others beyond his own when driving impaired, and the added negligence results in a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor, in most cases. 

Aggravating Circumstances

Various driving circumstances may cause a driver to face aggravated DWI charges, such as:

  • Exceptionally high blood alcohol content. Once a driver goes well beyond the legal limit, the penalties worsen. In South Carolina, a driver is likely to receive an aggravated charge when driving with double the legal limit.
  • Endangering a child. You will likely face child endangerment and aggravated DWI charges if you drive intoxicated with a minor as a passenger. This serious offense often leads to more prison time added to the impaired driving sentence.
  • Causing bodily harm or death. If your intoxicated driving causes serious bodily harm or the death of another person, the aggravated charge usually applies. The harmed person could be a passenger in your car, a pedestrian, or another driver.
  • Driving with a suspended license. You can be brought up on the aggravated DWI charge if you drive while intoxicated with a revoked or suspended driving license. 

Penalties for Aggravated DWI

States such as South Carolina, which rank near the top of the worst states for drunk driving, continue to make offenders pay more severely for impaired driving. The penalties vary from case to case and depend on several variables. The most severe penalties apply to violations involving child endangerment, causing bodily harm or death, and drastically exceeding the legal blood alcohol content.

Aggravated DWI convictions often result in substantially higher fines exceeding $25,000. Other penalties include jail time ranging from fifteen to twenty-five years and a lengthy driver’s license suspension.

Consider Myrtle Beach Recovery

Our friendly, professional, and caring staff can help you build the positive habits essential for a fulfilling, happy, and sober life. Contact us to learn more about the various programs we offer in a comfortable and welcoming facility outside of Myrtle Beach, SC.