Every state has its driving laws, administrative procedures, and criminal penalties. However, there are different charges that the police can bring against you if you’re operating a vehicle after using drugs or alcohol. The charge could be a DUI, DWI, or OUI and a DUI defense attorney can explain the differences between the three.
Regardless of the offense you’re charged with, you’ll need a Clemson DUI defense attorney to help defend your case. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between DUI, OUI, and DWI and how they apply in Clemson.
What Is the Meaning of DUI, DWI, and OUI
Three charges can be filed against you when caught operating a motor vehicle under the influence. However, the acronyms DUI (driving under the influence), OUI (operating under the influence), and DWI (driving while intoxicated) are commonly used for drunk driving charges in the United States. In addition, there are several more terms, but they have specific meanings within the penal code of each state.
South Carolina uses DUI to identify the standard charge for driving under the influence. The terms are more of a terminology preference and refer less to legal differences. An example is when you travel to Clemson from another state like Massachusetts. If you have a previous conviction for OUI in Massachusetts, you could get arrested for a second offense DUI if you’re caught driving under the influence.
This is because the state would recognize the out-of-state DUI as the same offense irrespective of the differences in the name. However, most people use DUI and DWI interchangeably when discussing the same crime.
Your best bet when figuring out the differences is to speak to a Clemson DUI defense attorney to understand the various definitions and implications of the charges against you. Only an experienced DUI defense attorney understands South Carolina DUI laws and the best way to defend you.
Terms Used for Impaired Driving Charges
Again, several terms are used in different states to refer to standard impaired driving charges. This usually refers to a BAC of 0.08% or higher. These terms and the states they’re officially used include:
- DUI: Driving under the influence
- DWI: Driving while intoxicated
- DUII: Driving under the influence of intoxicants (Oregon)
- DWAI: Driving while ability impaired (New York and Colorado)
- OWI: Operating while intoxicated (Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa)
- OUI: Operating under the influence (Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maine)
- OVUII: Operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (Hawaii)
- OVI: Operating a vehicle under the influence (Ohio)
Some states have different terms for variations of the offense like underage DUI, repeat offenses, presence of children in the vehicle, driving while under the influence of illicit drugs, very high BAC, etc.
DUI Laws in South Carolina
South Carolina is quite strict on DUI laws. For example, you can be convicted if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. In addition, SC law requires drivers to provide their permission for urine, breath, or blood testing to detect the presence of alcohol or other substances.
The court could suspend your license for six months for refusing to take the test. Alternatively, you could get a 9-month suspension if you have previous convictions.
For first-time offenders, penalties could include jail time, fines, etc. So if you’re facing a DUI charge in Clemson, you need to understand how the law applies to your situation and the different penalties for your level of conviction and talk to a DUI defense attorney for guidance.
Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol
South Carolina Law states that if you’re under the influence of alcohol to the extent that your faculties to drive a motor vehicle is impaired, you can face a DUI charge, regardless of your BAC. A DUI defense attorney can provide more information about the possible charges you may be facing.
Driving With an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (Per Se DUI)
Another way you can face a DUI charge in South Carolina is based on your Blood Alcohol Concentration. If you’re driving and your BAC is 0.08% or higher, you’ve violated the law. For this type of DUI charge, it doesn’t matter how impaired your cognitive abilities are. Whether you can still drive safely or not, the police can establish criminal culpability if your BAC is above the legal limit and you will need a DUI defense attorney to help your case.
Penalties for a DUI in South Carolina
Under South Carolina law, the penalties for the various DUIs are usually the same. However, your Clemson DUI defense attorney can help you minimize the punishments. These penalties generally increase with the blood alcohol concentration and if it is a second or third offense.
South Carolina prohibits anyone under 21 from operating a motor vehicle with a BAC higher than 0.02%. This is referred to as the zero-tolerance law. Such a person could face automatic driver’s license suspension for three to six months.
In addition, if a person under 21 refuses to take a BAC testing, their license will be automatically suspended for 6-12 months, especially when there’s a previous alcohol-related conviction, so talking with a DUI defense attorney as soon as you can is imperative.
If you’re facing a DUI charge and you’re a first-time offender, and you have a BAC of 0.8%, some of the penalties you would face include:
- $400 fine or lower
- Almost $600 in additional assessments and surcharges
- 48 hours to 30 days in jail (the judge can sentence you to community service instead of jail time)
- Loss of driver’s license for six months
If you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10% or above, you face a $500 fine. The minimum jail time or community service is 72 hours. For BAC of 0.16% or above, penalties include a $1,000 fine and a minimum of 30 days of community service or jail time.
For repeat offenders, the penalties are automatically higher. For second offenses, fines can range from $2000-$5000. Assessment and surcharges could also be up to $5,600. There’s also a chance of 1 year of jail and a year of driver’s license suspension. For third offenses, penalties could include three years of imprisonment, driver’s license suspension, and up to $13,000 fines. That is why you need to hire a DUI defense attorney as soon as possible.
Talk to a Clemson DUI Defense Attorney Today!
Regardless of the term or the various offenses, a conviction for DUI significantly affects your life. Beyond these, the fines and assessment fees can put a dent in your pocket. Therefore, if you’ve been charged with a DUI, it’s crucial to get a Clemson DUI defense attorney on your side.
A Clemson SC criminal defense attorney will help you to assert your right. At Bateman Law Firm, we leverage our years of experience to get the best outcome for your case. We understand how South Carolina law works and will use all legal defenses to minimize your sentence or get you off your charge. Contact our legal team today to book a free case review.