South Carolina has no tolerance for anyone under the age of twenty-one who decides to drive a vehicle after consuming alcohol. If you are under twenty-one, you only need a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 percent to be charged with an underage DUI. The penalties for an underage DUI conviction usually depend on the facts and circumstances of your case; however, in most cases, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for at least three months. If you are underage and charged with DUI, contact an underage DUI lawyer as soon as possible to start building your defense.
Penalties for an Underage DUI
If you are under the age of twenty-one and you have a license to drive a motor vehicle on South Carolina roadways and you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, you automatically consent to a test by law enforcement of your breath, blood, or urine to determine whether you have alcohol or drugs in your system. You have a right to refuse a test; however, if you refuse, you will automatically lose your driver’s license for six months. If you do decide to take the test, even if your blood alcohol concentration is only 0.02 percent, you can lose your license for at least three months. License suspensions can be for a longer period of time depending on whether you have any prior DUI or refusal convictions. Having an experienced underage DUI lawyer can make all the difference during this time.
It is important to note that if you are under the age of twenty-one and your blood alcohol concentration is found to be 0.08 percent or higher, you can be arrested and also charged under South Carolina’s DUI laws. A DUI conviction that results from a blood alcohol level greater than 0.08 percent has even greater penalties including hefty fines and significant jail time. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, even a first time underage DUI can be considered a felony if you are involved in an accident that causes serious injuries or death to another person. If the accident causes serious bodily injury, penalties can include fines greater than $5,000, and jail time of up to fifteen years. If the accident is fatal, the fines are even more significant and can include imprisonment of up to twenty-five years.
Underage DUI charges can have long-lasting adverse effects on your life and should be taken seriously. An underage DUI conviction can affect your ability to obtain and keep a job, can even affect your ability to qualify for a student loan, and can affect your day-to-day relationships with friends and family. If you are under the age of twenty-one and have been arrested and charged with DUI, it is important that you speak with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. Underage DUI lawyer John Bateman can review the facts and evidence in your case and advise you of your rights and responsibilities so that you can make an informed decision as to how you would like to proceed in your case.