What Happens After A DUI Charge in South Carolina?

No one ever expects to receive a DUI charge, but it can and does often happen.  Sometimes a simple evening with friends having a few drinks can turn into a difficult mess when you are pulled over on the way home.  South Carolina law enforcement officers do not care about where you are coming, going, or only driving a short distance. It is the job of the officer to decipher whether you are driving while impaired, which can be by the use of alcohol or drugs.  If you are impaired, then they will arrest you on DUI charges.  Being charged with a DUI in the state of South Carolina can lead to some grave consequences and can interfere with your day to day life.  You may lose your driving privileges, which can dramatically impact your social and work life. The inconvenience of not being able to drive yourself places may seem small compared to a full-term jail sentence, but it can also be an immense strain.  Most people that have never been charged with a DUI generally have a lot of questions.  For instance, will I lose my license?  Will I serve jail time? And if so, how long is the sentence?  At the Bateman Law Firm, our Greenville DUI attorney is here to answer those questions and steer you through the DUI litigation process.

Even if you have had a previous DUI charge, a new conviction can bring about a whole new set of consequences.  The penalties for DUI charges get worse the more times they occur.  To get all the answers to your many DUI questions and assess your case, you will need to contact a knowledgeable DUI attorney.  Having a dedicated South Carolina DUI attorney to help you through the litigation process will only better your chances at a favorable verdict.  At Bateman Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina, our dedicated DUI attorney is always available to help you when a DUI charge has been assigned to you.

In the state of South Carolina, driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances is illegal.  You can be

Clemson SC DUI defense law lawyer
DUI defense attorney in Clemson SC

charged with a DUI if you are driving impaired due to the presence of alcohol and/or drugs above the allowed legal limit in your body system.  South Carolina has two different sides of the legal system to deal with DUI charges.  The administrative side deals with the suspension of licenses through the department of motor vehicles.  The criminal aspect of the equation is met through the court system and determines the criminal penalties such as jail time and fines.  They are treated separately from one another, and you will have to deal with them both upon a DUI charge.

In South Carolina, there are two separate offenses for driving under the influence.  The penalties for both are almost identical, however, what the prosecution must prove for a conviction for each is different.  For a DUAC, the prosecution needs to show that the car operator was driving with a blood alcohol level concentration of .08 or higher.  A DUI conviction is different. In this case, the prosecution merely needs to prove that the driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol.  With DUI law being so complex, the best thing one can do to aid the litigation process is to consult with our knowledgeable DUI attorney.

Being convicted of a DUI will lead to the immediate suspension of your driver’s license.  For how long your license is suspended depends on certain factors.  For instance, if you have had your license suspended in the past then your suspension could be longer than a first-time offense.  Also, your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the arrest will affect your suspension time period.  An “implied consent law” has been established in South Carolina which means that by driving in the state, you already consent to a chemical test for alcohol and drugs if you are pulled over.  This test is usually a breath or breathalyzer test, but can also be a blood or urine test.  If you refuse to be tested, you will receive an automatic suspension which will be added to your suspension from the DUI.  The minimum license suspension for refusing to take a breath test is six months.  For a first time offense of a DUI with a BAC under .15% your license will be suspended for six months.  If you are to get struck with a second DUI offense with a BAC under .15%, then your license can be suspended indefinitely.  For multiple offenders the suspensions and consequences only get worse.

Once your license is suspended for refusing to take a breathalyzer, you will receive a blue notice of suspension.  You will then have thirty days to request an administrative hearing with the department of motor vehicles.  The means of the hearing is so you can oppose your suspension and attempt to gain your driving privileges back.  In order to request a hearing, you will need to fill out your blue notice of suspension form and send it to the South Carolina Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings, which will run you a fee of about $200.  Alternatively, if you hire our skilled DUI lawyer at Bateman Law firm, we will handle the processing of the form for you and appear at the hearing on your behalf.

The criminal side of DUI cases is dealt with by the court system.  The penalties include jail time, fines, and license suspensions.  It is necessary to note that the suspensions issued by the administrative side of the law are not joined to the court’s criminal DUI license suspensions.  South Carolina will look up to ten years back to see prior charges and identify if you have any priors in other states.  The specifics of your particular case will determine how severe your penalties are if convicted.

If your DUI case lands you convicted of a DUI, then you can apply for a route-restricted driver’s license.  This license will be given to you for the amount of time of your suspension.  A route-restricted license means that you will be limited to the places you can travel.  The approved locations to travel are usually work, school, and court order drug or alcohol programs. A route-restricted license is only available once in an individual’s lifetime. To be allowed a route-restricted license you must fill out the DL-127 form, be a permanent resident or U.S. citizen, and your license cannot be suspended for an alcohol violation of more than .15% BAC level.   

In some cases, an ignition interlock device (IID) may be installed in your car and attached to the dashboard. An IID is designed to prevent you from while driving while after consuming alcohol.  The driver must blow into the IID, much like a breathalyzer, before the engine starts.   If the driver has a blood-alcohol level higher than that programmed in the IID, then the car will not be able to start.  The driver will also have to randomly breathe into the device while driving.  This is to make sure the driver is not having other people blow into the device in order to get the engine started.  Usually, first-time offenders who blow over the .15% BAC and those convicted of a second DUI offense are eligible for a DII.  If you are required to have an IID installed in your vehicle, it is also required to pay the fees associated with the device. The IID is to be used for the length your license suspension.  The IID is there to make sure the driver does not violate the law concerning drinking and driving.  If you violate the IID program, you can accumulate points against your license, and you may increase your suspension period on your license.

On top of suspensions, and all the other consequences a DUI charge will have you facing; insurance companies will use your drunk driving as reckless driving behavior.  This means your rates will skyrocket and your premiums will go up.  South Carolina does not joke around when it comes to DUI offenses.  If you have been charged with a DUI, the state will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.  The downward spiral that begins from a DUI charge can cause an immensely negative impact on your life for years to come.

As you can see, DUI offenses in South Carolina are serious business.  Their consequences can be felt for years after the actual conviction.  It is best to get a head start immediately following a DUI charge and contact our experienced DUI lawyer.  At Bateman Law firm, we have a successful track record when helping our clients deal with DUI offenses.  We have a great depth of knowledge of the intricate workings surrounding DUI law in South Carolina.  Let us assist you in your time of need.  Give our office a call and speak to one of our competent DUI attorneys for a free consultation today.