In this article, you’re going to learn some of the truths and myths about driving under the influence (DUI), in South Carolina. We’ll touch on…
- Breathalyzer tests
- Potential penalties, including fines and jail time
- DUI’s on your criminal record
- Driver’s license suspension and revocation
The State of South Carolina is serious about prosecuting DUIs, which are misdemeanors or felonies depending on the circumstances. So if you’re facing DUI charges, contact an experienced dui defense attorney right away to get legal help for your case. Our legal team created this guide to explain common truths and myths about DUI laws.
1. “I don’t have to take a Breathalyzer if the police officer asks me to blow.”
If a police officer pulls you over for suspicion of DUI, you have the right to refuse a Breathalyzer test. However, whatever decision you make comes with some consequences.
Refusing an officer’s request for a Breathalyzer will result in your automatic driver’s license suspension. It is possible to request a hearing at which you can challenge the suspension. If you refused a Breathalyzer, contact an attorney as soon as possible to explore your options.
Taking a Breathalyzer means the state solicitor can use the test results against you if your blood alcohol level (BAC) is above the legal limits.
2. “If the cop didn’t read me my Miranda rights, my whole case will get thrown out.”
Mostly false, but true in very limited situations.
Law enforcement officers only have to read you your Miranda rights during custodial interrogation.
If your case is one of the instances in which a police officer should have read you your Miranda rights but didn’t, then there’s a chance that the evidence against you could be thrown out.
In even more rare cases, the thrown-out evidence is so crucial to the prosecution that their case against you can’t continue without it. When that happens, your entire case could be thrown out.
In either case, you should still discuss your case with a lawyer who will uncover strategies to fight the charges against you.
3. “Fighting a DUI is not worth it. The penalties aren’t that bad.”
The penalties for a DUI conviction in South Carolina are harsh, and the consequences will impact your life for a long time after you’re first pulled over under suspicion of a DUI.
The penalties for a DUI conviction could include the following:
- Jail time
- Court-ordered community service
- Increased insurance rates
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle
- Loss of your driver’s license
- Participation in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP)
- Obtain a policy for special SR-22 insurance
Any one of those penalties can affect your entire future — your family and friends, your pursuit of education and your career advancement, to name a few. If you’re convicted, you could end up with one or more of those punishments.
Another major reason to fight a DUI charge is the fact that the penalties for a conviction will get worse depending on if you have any prior DUI convictions. The “lookback period” in South Carolina is 10 years, meaning prior convictions are taken into consideration if they occurred within the last 10 years.
So, if you decide to plead guilty to DUI now thinking it won’t impact you in the future — you’re wrong. If you get another DUI charge within the next 10 years, that charge will now be for DUI 2nd, which comes with even harsher penalties than a 1st time DUI.
For example, for a DUI 1st offense with a BAC of .10% to .16%, you could be looking at a fine of $500 or 72 hours to 30 days in jail. For a DUI 2nd offense with the same BAC, you could now be facing a fine of $2,500 to $5,500 and 30 days to 2 years in jail. As you can see, the difference in punishment is huge.
Hiring a lawyer and fighting the charges is the best way you can fight for your future.
4. “DUIs can’t be wiped from your criminal record.”
A DUI conviction stays on your criminal record forever. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can work with the solicitor to try to get your DUI charge reduced to a lesser offense that could be expunged.
There’s only one other way for a DUI to be expunged from your criminal record — if you are found not guilty at trial, then you may be able to get your DUI charges erased from your record.
5. “If I’m convicted of DUI, I’ll lose my license. I won’t be able to drive to school, work, church or anywhere else.”
Even if your driver’s license is suspended due to a DUI, you could qualify for a provisional license or a temporary alcohol restricted license (TARL).
You must meet specific requirements to be eligible for a TARL, such as:
- Have no other driver’s license suspensions aside from the administrative suspension for failing a Breathalyzer test or refusing to blow
- Enroll in an approved Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP)
- File a certificate of SR-22 insurance with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
- Pay a $100 fee to obtain your provisional driver’s license
With your provisional TARL license, you may drive within the State of South Carolina. The DMV could assign you additional restrictions, such as only being allowed to drive your car to school or work and back home.
Don’t rely on DUI rumors. Get the truth and the help you need from a lawyer.
Facing DUI charges is stressful enough without having to unravel myths from reality. Talking to an attorney about your situation means getting your questions answered and putting some of the uncertainty behind you.
Kent Collins Law routinely helps clients who are facing DUI charges in SC.
For a free in person consultation you can email us or call 803-808-0905.