If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in South Carolina, you will most likely have to appear in front of a judge to plead guilty to DUI charges or not guilty.
Appearing in court on your DUI charges can be intimidating, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the process. In South Carolina, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is treated very seriously, and the penalties can be severe depending on the number of offenses you have on your record.
However, if you cannot prove that you were not intoxicated while driving, it’s in your best interest to plead guilty and work toward paying off any fines or fees levied against you.
When you plead guilty to DUI charges, your license will be suspended, and you will have to pay higher car insurance premiums. It’s in your best interest to contact criminal defense lawyers in Clemson, South Carolina, as soon as possible to minimize the penalties. With the help of an experienced Clemson, South Carolina DUI lawyer, you can determine whether or not it makes sense to plead guilty or fight your charges at trial.
Here’s what to expect when you plead guilty to DUI charges.
When Must You Plead Guilty To Your DUI Charges?
Getting charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the worst things that can happen to you. The penalties are incredibly severe – jail time, expensive fines, and not to mention the damage to your reputation and personal life. However, there are times when pleading guilty to DUI charges isn’t only advisable, it’s the right thing to do.
Here are some reasons why you should plead guilty to DUI charges:
Pleading Guilty Will Save You Time, Money, And Stress
If you’re charged with DUI, you have two options: plead guilty or plead not guilty. And while it may seem like pleading not guilty is your best bet, in many cases, pleading guilty can save you time and money, not to mention: stress. When you plead guilty to DUI charges, all your fees are decided at once rather than over months or years of court dates. You also don’t have to spend hours preparing for the trial.
In some cases, pleading guilty can even reduce your sentence by a significant amount. For example, if you initially faced six months in jail for driving under the influence but pleaded guilty instead, you could get off with just probation or community service.
Admitting Responsibility Will Help Others Trust You Again
If you’re guilty of a DUI, it will take time before people trust you again. However, by pleading guilty, you’re admitting your wrongdoing and showing others that you’ve acknowledged your mistake and learned from it. As a result, they will be more likely to trust you again.
The Punishment Could Be Much Worse Than Anticipated
Many assume that pleading guilty means they’ll automatically receive a harsh punishment. But there’s no way to know precisely how your judge will rule if you are found guilty (after pleading not guilty) – if you honestly plead guilty to DUI charges, you can still fight for a lighter punishment.
What To Expect When You Plead Guilty To DUI Charges
Certain factors will make up your sentence if you plead guilty, and you should familiarize yourself with them before heading into the courtroom. Your sentence can include community service, fines, alcohol education classes, and even jail time, depending on the severity of your DUI charge.
Here’s a list of things that you should expect after pleading guilty:
Fines And Fees
Fines and fees vary from state to state, but even a first-offense conviction will bring costs. The average cost for a first-offense conviction is about $1300 (not including legal fees), but you can face up to $10,000 in fines and fees on top of community service and other penalties depending on the details of your case.
Jail Time & Its Effects On Employability
Jail time is tough on everyone, but a job requiring a certain amount of client interaction (real estate agent, bank teller) can affect your ability to keep that job. Jail time affects employment, and here are some steps you can take to mitigate these effects.
First, be prepared for some legal hoops; most employers require employees convicted of a crime to provide proof that they’ve met all their criminal and financial obligations to avoid termination.
If you know ahead of time that you may have to serve jail time, contact an attorney specializing in criminal defense so they can help guide you through making sure your affairs are in order. Lastly, be honest about how long things will take to resolve before beginning any new job or interview process.
Staying Away From Drugs/Alcohol For A Year
One of your biggest challenges will be staying away from drugs and alcohol, which can be difficult if you’re not in a sober environment. You might even have to avoid environments like bars and parties. This may also require limiting contact with old friends who may tempt you to return to the things that put you in troubled waters, to begin with.
Make sure that any time spent with friends is productive. Go for walks or participate in other activities that don’t involve drugs or alcohol. If you do have contact with people using these substances, make sure they know about your sobriety goals, so they don’t put pressure on you to use them as well.
Driving With A Suspended License
Your driver’s license will be suspended as soon as you plead guilty to DUI charges or do not contest any traffic offense in court. In most cases, you must surrender it immediately. If you cannot produce a valid license, you may be arrested and charged with driving on a suspended license. This is true even if your suspension is not yet effective.
Avoid Further Trouble In The Future
Once you’ve pleaded guilty to a drunk driving charge, you might face license suspension for some time (or not). For repeat offenders (third-time, for instance), it’s unlikely they’ll ever be able to drive again. Be careful about any restrictions placed on you.
Get Help As Soon As Possible From A Qualified Clemson, South Carolina DUI Lawyer
If you’re facing a DUI charge, it’s important to reach out to the capable criminal defense lawyers in Clemson, South Carolina from the Bateman Law Firm for your defense. An experienced lawyer from our firm can help mitigate your penalties and ensure you get out of your charge with minimal hassle.
If you get arrested for your first-time offense and decide not to hire a lawyer, don’t be surprised when things get difficult from thereon. Getting legal representation is always worth it if you want a better chance at staying out of jail and getting on with your life as soon as possible.
Contact our Clemson, South Carolina DUI lawyers today for legal representation!