Driving Under Influence (DUI) is an offense which is often taken lightly. However, as a DUI defense attorney knows, the penalties attached to this offense can be a life-changing experience. Many people take a light view of the first DUI offense in particular. This is a critical mistake. Your first DUI conviction can cause permanent changes to your insurance standing, employment prospects and other areas of your life.
The state of South Carolina, in particular, is often called a ‘zero tolerance’ DUI state. This is reflected in the harsh short-term penalties and long-term consequences of a DUI citation, even if it’s your first time. After a DUI citation, you may be tempted to plead guilty and get done with your first conviction. Many DUI convicts do this to avoid going to the court or undergoing the trial. Again, this is a mistake.
Following are a number of reasons why you should consider fighting your first DUI charges.
If you are charged with DUI, it goes on your criminal record. The state of South Carolina has a lookback period of ten years. This means that the DUI citation stays on your record for ten years. The charge can be viewed by anyone, including a potential future employer, when doing a background check on you. This can make things significantly harder for you.
With a good DUI defense attorney at your side, however, you may be able to have the DUI charges reduced. In some cases, it is even possible to have your criminal record cleared immediately.
When you get a DUI citation, your auto insurance rating takes a hit. A DUI is an excuse for your insurer to claim that you are an above-average risk. The insurance company then asks you to pay a higher premium as you pose a higher risk. Typically, you will be required to pay around 90% to 98% higher insurance rates after getting a DUI citation. This heightened rate will stay with you for at least three years and may continue for as long as the full duration of the lookback period i.e. ten years.
This is another reason why you would want to fight your first DUI conviction. A DUI charge depends on a number of factors, including the conduct of the arresting officer, the BAC results and other evidence. Any gaps or flaws in any of these can result in a flawed case. A qualified attorney can argue against such a case and have the DUI charges dropped altogether.
For a first DUI offense in South Carolina, your driver’s license is suspended for six months. This may sound like a less important degree of penalties. However, once you grapple with a life without your license, you begin to understand the implications.
License suspension means that you can no longer drive to work, pick kids from school or do the groceries. It has an immediate impact on your life. People have been known to lose their jobs after a license suspension. Commuting may be an option but that quickly becomes an expensive or time-consuming alternative.
If you drive with a suspended license, the penalties only get harsher and you may get a lifetime suspension in some cases. Although it is possible to apply for a provisional, conditional or route-restricted license in the interim, these options come with severe driving limitations.
DUI charges multiply if you commit multiple DUI offenses during the lookback period. For instance, if you commit a DUI offense and then a second offense within ten years of the first offense, this counts as second DUI offense. Subsequent offenses count as third offense, fourth offense and so on.
The first 2 DUI offenses are regarded as a misdemeanor in South Carolina. The third DUI offense is regarded as a felony and so are all subsequent DUI offenses.
How Can a Greenville, SC DUI Defense Attorney Help You?
If you have been charged with a first DUI offense, it makes every sense to fight the charges. With a qualified DUI attorney at your side, you stand a good chance of receiving lighter penalties. If the case is weak, the attorney may have the charges scrapped altogether. You can also explore options such as community service and enrollment in a rehabilitation program to get rid of the citation on your criminal record.
Hiring a Greenville, SC DUI Defense Attorney
Here at The Bateman Firm, we have been working on DUI cases for many years. Our attorneys are experienced in South Carolina DUI laws and work with you to seek minimum penalties on your behalf. Our Greenville, SC DUI lawyers also rigorously assess every single case to see potential gaps or misconducts. These can then be used to have the charges dropped or reduced. Contact us today to discuss your case and book a FREE consultation with our attorneys.