If you have been charged with driving under the influence, you are likely feeling anxious, concerned, and have lots of questions. The impact of DUI charges on your life can be devastating and long-lasting. To lessen the impact, the first thing you will want to do is seek the counsel of an attorney with experience in challenging DUI charges.
Hiring the right attorney can limit the impact a DUI will have on your future. An experienced DUI attorney can answer your most pressing questions and provide you with the right legal guidance. This ensures you have the top counsel in your corner fighting for your rights.
Each DUI case is different. For this reason, it is important for you to work with your attorney to understand the ins and outs of your specific situation. You should never face DUI charges on your own. An experienced DUI attorney will help you understand the law and the facts as they apply to your specific case and determine the best defense available.
Why should you contest DUI charges?
Never take a DUI charge lightly. A conviction will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life and on your DMV records for 10 years. Charges may be removed from your record, however, if your attorney is successful in getting your charges reduced or dismissed.
The impact can be far-reaching. Employers may be less likely to hire you if you are seeking a new job, and your current employer could consider firing you.
In South Carolina, a conviction will cause you to lose your full driving privileges for at least six months. If your job relies on travel, or if you commute to the office, you may need to find a new job or risk losing your employment.
Since a DUI conviction can never be expunged, it will follow you everywhere you go. For this reason alone, it is important to understand your options for defense and take whatever action you can to challenge the DUI charges against you and reduce the impact on your life.
What penalties do you face for a DUI in South Carolina?
The penalties you may face related to your DUI charge in South Carolina will vary depending on a number of factors.
For example, the first offense with a blood alcohol content of 0.10% or lower could result in a $400 fine or 30 days in jail. If your blood alcohol content is above 0.16%, despite this being your first offense, you face a $1000 fine along with no less than 30 days and up to 90 days in jail. For a DUI 1st Offense, your license will be suspended for six months. The impact increases with each offense.
Additional negative effects of a DUI could include the following:
- The requirement to purchase SR-22 insurance which can be expensive.
- Mandatory participation in an alcohol, drug, and safety program (ADSAP), the cost of which will come out of your pocket
- Felony DUI Resulting in Great Bodily Injury could result in jail time of at least 30 days and potentially up to 15 years, as well as a $5,100 to $10,100 fine
- Felony DUI Resulting in Death carries a much greater penalty of at least one year in prison with the potential for up to 25 years
One additional note to consider is that you are not required to take a breathalyzer test if you are suspected of driving under the influence. However, refusing to take the test will result in a six-month suspension of your driving privileges.
Can I get a temporary license to commute to work if no reliable public transportation is available?
Often people expect that after being arrested for a DUI, your driver’s license will immediately be taken away. However, an arrest for a DUI in South Carolina does not necessarily take away your license. You only lose your driver’s license following a DUI arrest if you refuse to provide a breath sample or if you provide a breath sample that is greater than 0.15% blood alcohol content. A conviction for DUI always results in a suspension of your driver’s license.
If you have your license suspended due to a conviction this can impact your ability to get to and from work and potentially jeopardize your standing as an employee. Fortunately, there are options that allow you to make it to work, get to important appointments, and run necessary errands.
While public transportation is often an option, it can also be inconvenient and is sometimes limited in certain areas. To accommodate the need for necessary travel, if you are convicted of a DUI in South Carolina, you have three options for obtaining a temporary license.
Route Restricted License: This type of license allows you to drive only for pre-determined activities. These typically include driving to and from work, or attending school, court appointments, or alcohol programs.
Temporary Alcohol License (TAL): If your license is suspended for a refusal to take a breath alcohol test after you have been arrested or for providing a breath sample that is too high, you can choose to contest the suspension. To apply for a TAL you must request an administrative hearing to contest the suspension within 30 days of your arrest.
Provisional License: This type of temporary license allows you to drive for work, social, school, alcohol programs, and generally all driving activities you were able to partake in prior to your DUI charges. You will be responsible for going through the application process as well as paying a fee to obtain your temporary license. This option is essentially only available after being convicted of a DUI 1st Offense.
Will my DUI charges require a court appearance?
If you are arrested for a DUI in South Carolina, the court process can take a year or more to fully play out.
The first step will be a bench trial. This is when you enter your plea. If you decide to plead not guilty and fight your DUI charges, we strongly recommend that you request a jury trial as opposed to leaving the decision up to a judge.
The right DUI attorney may be able to negotiate a better resolution that may allow you to keep your driver’s license/driving privileges. If an agreement cannot be reached to resolve the case, then the DUI case will be decided in a jury trial in court.
Does being arrested for a DUI guarantee I will serve jail time?
Earlier, we covered penalties you may face in relation to your DUI charges. Of the penalties potentially imposed upon you for a DUI, jail (or prison) time is perhaps the most unsettling and disruptive.
A DUI conviction does not guarantee you will be required to serve jail time. In cases where jail time is required, however, the level of severity and amount of time you will serve varies depending on a number of factors. First-time offenders, for example, may serve at least 48 hours in jail, with the potential for that to turn into up to 30 days.
For your first offense, if your blood alcohol level (BAC) is greater than 0.10% but less than 0.16%, you may be required to serve at least 72 hours in jail. If your BAC is greater than 0.16%, the time may increase to 30-90 days in jail.
The length of the jail or prison sentence resulting from your DUI charges rises significantly with additional offenses and the severity of those offenses. A conviction for a DUI 4th Offense or greater with a blood alcohol level of 0.16% or higher will result in at least a three-year prison sentence, with the potential to serve up to seven years.
Selecting the right DUI attorney
Knowledge and experience are critical factors in mounting an effective defense in response to the DUI charges against you. The negative impact a DUI can have on your life is too significant to go it alone.
Having served as DUI prosecutors prior to turning our focus to defending citizens against DUI charges, our team at Ellis Law is uniquely qualified to defend your case.
We bring a depth of knowledge from both sides, making us well-equipped to explore every available legal option and to fully protect your rights.
Learn more about our DUI Services, Contact Ellis Law today for a free confidential consultation with an attorney in the Upstate of South Carolina, Call us at 864-991-8738.