South Carolina DUI Law
Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances is against the law in the state of California. This means that, if you are caught driving under the influence, you will face criminal charges that have serious consequences. If you have an extreme blood alcohol level or if you have prior convictions for this type of offense, the penalties will increase substantially. Because these penalties have the power to take away your freedom, your driving privileges, and your good reputation, you need to contact a South Carolina DUI lawyer immediately after your arrest. Having the benefit of an experienced South Carolina DUI attorney on your team can give you the best chance for successfully defending yourself against serious DUI charges.
South Carolina DUI Arrest and Prosecution
South Carolina is very advanced in its DUI laws because the state requires law enforcement officers to videotape every arrest for driving under the influence. The videotaping must start as soon as the officer activates his or her lights and makes an attempt to stop a driver. The videotape must include specific events such as the reading of the driver’s Miranda rights, the officer informing the driver that he or she can refuse testing, and the actual breath test if one is conducted. While videotaping the arrest of a suspected DUI offender can help prosecutors prove a case, this method can also give South Carolina DUI lawyers the ammunition they need to have the charges dismissed. A skilled South Carolina DUI attorney will be able to review this videotaped evidence and notice if any of the required elements are missing or if the arrest was conducted improperly. If your attorney finds this to be the case, he or she can attempt to have the charges against you dropped.
Once charges have been filed against you, the prosecutor in your case will try to prove that your consumption of alcohol impaired your physical or mental abilities to a level that you could not operate your vehicle safely. Because this is a criminal offense, the prosecutor must prove that you were impaired beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor is able to prove your impairment and you are convicted, you will face a number of possible penalties. These penalties are enhanced if your blood alcohol concentration level was 0.08% or higher at the time of testing, if you have more than one DUI conviction within a ten year period, and if you have any convictions in other states.
South Carolina DUI Criminal Penalties
The criminal penalties for driving under the influence in South Carolina increase with each subsequent offense and can be enhanced if specific circumstances are met. Penalties for a first offense conviction are a fine of $400 and 48 hours of jail time up to 30 days of jail time. The judge in your case may choose to have you perform 48 hours of community service in lieu of serving 48 hours of jail time. For a second offense conviction, you can be fined anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 and be sentenced to jail time of 5 days to one year. Instead of serving jail time, you may be sentenced to 30 days of community service. If you are convicted of a third DUI offense, you can be penalized by fines of $3,800 to #6,400 and jail time of 60 days to 3 years. If you are then convicted of a fourth offense, you will face one year of prison time up to five years of prison time. Fourth offenses are considered to be felony DUI offenses. If you caused bodily injury to another person while committing a DUI offense, you will face fines of $5,000 to $10,000 and a mandatory 30 days in jail. This sentence can be anywhere from 30 days to 15 years at the discretion of the court. If your DUI offense caused the death of another person you will be fined between $10,000 and $25,000 and will be imprisoned for one year up to 25 years. The court may choose to impose an ignition interlock device penalty on any offender.
Driver’s License Consequences
There are also consequences concerning your driving privileges if you are convicted of driving under the influence in South Carolina. One of the penalties occurs if you have refused chemical testing. The laws in South Carolina make it so that just by driving a vehicle in the state means you are implying your consent for chemical testing. If you are stopped and asked to submit to chemical testing, you must do so. However, you have the right to have independent testing done after the law enforcement officers complete their own testing. Law enforcement officers are required by law to help you obtain an independent test by transporting you to a facility where the test can be performed or helping you obtain contact information needed to schedule a test. Having a qualified South Carolina DUI lawyer represent you can help you to use your independent test to your advantage. If the state test and the independent test vary greatly from one another, your attorney may be able to show that the state’s test is invalid due to improper test procedures or other reasons.
If you are arrested for DUI in South Carolina, you may not face a pre-conviction license suspension. However, having a BAC of 0.08% or greater changes this situation and puts a pre-conviction suspension into effect. If it is your first offense, your license will be suspended for thirty days and if it is your second offense, your license will be suspended for 60 days. You may be able to get a restricted license that will allow you to maintain employment and travel to and from necessary locations. Contacting a South Carolina DUI lawyer immediately after your arrest can help you to preserve your rights and may even help you retain your driving privileges, so contacting a qualified professional can be of great benefit to your case.
Visit our South Carolina DUI Attorney website and fill out a free case evaluation today.