South Carolina DUI Lawyer

Perhaps more so than any other singular criminal offense, South Carolina law enforcement authorities take driving under the influence (DUI) extremely seriously. Even a first offense could lead to significant consequences that may include fines and license suspension, and subsequent offenses are punishable by even steeper fines and sanctions as well as a prolonged term of imprisonment.

No matter what your prior record is, you should speak with a South Carolina DUI lawyer as soon as possible after being charged with this offense. With assistance from a dependable criminal attorney, you may have a much better shot of contesting the charges you face and mitigating the penalties you could receive upon conviction.

How Does State Law Define Drunk Driving?

South Carolina Code of Laws §56-5-2933 provides that it is unlawful for anyone to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) equal to or greater than 0.08 percent, or 0.04 percent for commercial drivers.  This is known as Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC).  Importantly, if a driver is tested for intoxication and is measured with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more, they may be charged with per se DUI regardless of whether that amount of alcohol has notably impaired their ability to drive.

In addition, law enforcement entities have the authority to arrest anyone they suspect of being under the influence of alcohol, drug, or any other intoxicating substance while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. As per South Carolina Code of Laws §56-5-2930, being under the influence entails being materially and appreciably impaired to the point that it impacts the defendant’s ability to safely operate their vehicle. However, this definition is subjective, and its interpretation often varies based on the individual officer making an arrest, so it may be possible to challenge an assertion of intoxication with help from a South Carolina DUI attorney.

Sanctions for Successive DUI Convictions

When someone with no history of DUI is convicted of this offense for the first time, they may face a minimum punishment of either 48 hours in jail or 48 hours of mandatory community service, as well as between $400 and $1,000 in fines and fees with a maximum sentence of up to 30 days in jail. They will also have their license suspended for six months following their conviction, although provisional licenses may be available in certain situations.

Second offenders are subject to imprisonment for anyone from five days to three years, as well as fines and fees of between $2,100 and $6,500 and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for two years. Third and subsequent offenses may result in 60 days to five years of imprisonment, $3,800 to $10,000 in fines, and mandatory IID installation for three to four years.

Importantly, the severity of sanctions that a person convicted of DUI may face upon conviction can increase based on the defendant’s BAC at the time of arrest, with a BAC over 0.15 percent allowing for significantly harsher penalties (mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail).  Additionally, since getting a driver’s license signifies implied consent to BAC testing during a traffic stop, anyone who refuses to submit to testing will automatically have their licensed suspended for six to 12 months depending on their record—or lack thereof—of prior DUI convictions.  However, there is an option to contest that suspension within 30 days of the Notice of Suspension.  A DUI lawyer in South Carolina could offer further clarification about these regulations, restrictions, and possible sanctions during an initial consultation.

Seek Help from a South Carolina DUI Attorney

Even if you have never even been arrested for any other criminal offense before, a DUI conviction could have serious repercussions for your personal and professional life. On top of the temporary loss of your driver’s license, you may have to pay steep fines, deal with higher insurance rates, and even serve time in jail.

Defending your best interests in the wake of a drunk driving arrest could be much easier with help from a qualified South Carolina DUI lawyer. Call today to discuss your circumstances and find out how a legal professional could assist you.