WARNING: YOU ONLY HAVE 30 DAYS from the date of your arrest for DUI in South Carolina to request an administrative hearing about your driver's license. If you do not, your driver's license will be automatically suspended. For immediate help contact Charleston DUI Attorney Trey Harrell today.
Driving under the influence is a broad concept. According to the South Carolina state laws, the following are the three instances when a driver can be booked for a DUI in Charleston:
A DUAC (as we outlined here) is very similar to a DUI. DUAC stands for Driving with unlawful alcohol concentration and in most cases analogous to that of a DUI. However, this is only when your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above 0.8% or more. Remember this can be tested either with a breathalyzer test or with a blood test.
Arresting a driver for a DUI in Charleston is a bit easier to do than for a DUAC. You can be immediately arrested if your BAC is great than 0.8%. When you BAC is between 0.5% and 0.8%, and you fail the sobriety tests, then you can also be arrested.
The sobriety tests usually involve a series of tests that include HGN, walk and turn, one leg stand. If you were driving recklessly like weaving through traffic, driving off the road completely and swaying between lanes, you can be considered to be drunk. This conduct shows Law Enforcement that you were not able to maintain control of your vehicle and thus to endanger yourself and other road users. When you are pulled over, and you show signs of intoxication, then you can also be arrested. These symptoms usually include slurred speech, strong smell of alcohol, unable to walk properly, staggering and red, bloodshot eyes.
In severe cases, you will be taken for a blood test to determine the BAC. It is critical to remember that the police must administer the test within two hours of arrest. It is the same time frame for a breathalyzer test.
You can be pulled over anytime for a routine inspection following any traffic stop. When you are pulled over, and the officer suspects that you are drunk, you can be asked to get out of the car and perform the field sobriety tests. When you are stopped at a routine license check or road block, you can also be asked to do the field sobriety tests.
If you are driving recklessly, you can also be pulled over and tested for a DUI in Charleston. If you are stopped at a routine driver's license checkpoint or road block, you cannot be arrested for a DUAC. This basically means that you cannot be prosecuted for a DUAC in these instances.
It is always a good idea to contact a Charleston DUI lawyer after you were arrested for a DUI or DUAC in the Lowcountry. In South Carolina, the punishment for these two is pretty much the same and it may never be removed from your record. You need to get the best possible representation to work to get you the lightest sentence possible or work to possibly get the charges dismissed or found not guilty.
In South Carolina, the prosecutor must show that your driving ability was substantially and noticeably impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two, to be able to prosecute you for a DUI. For conviction of a DUAC, they must prove that you were driving with a BAC of higher than 0.8%.
For the first two convictions for a DUI, it is considered as a misdemeanor. There is a mandatory six-month license suspension, even if it is a misdemeanor. It is possible to apply for an ignition interlock device to be fitted in your car. It is usually possible after you have served a certain amount of time of your suspension. Your lawyer should be able to assist you with this. This device must be considered when you need your car for work, driving your kids to school or when you need to drive to a drug or alcohol treatment facility.
Further, there is also mandatory prison time. If your BAC is between 0.8% and 0.10%, the mandatory prison time is between two and thirty days. For a BAC of between 0.10% and 0.16%, the prison time is between three and thirty days. When the BAC is above 0.16%, then the driver faces prison time of minimum thirty days up to ninety days.
When you are a first-time offender, the prison time can be avoided by doing some community service. The fines for a DUI or DUAC are between $400 and $1000 depending on your BAC. Keep in mind that the fine is not the only cost that is involved as the town of Charleston as other jurisdictions impose various court costs/fees.
In South Carolina, you are forced to take out an expensive insurance policy on the SR-22 form from the DMV. You must also pay to have your license reinstated and renewed after your sentence.
If you have an ignition interlock device fitted, those costs are also for your own pocket. It is anywhere between $40 and $250 for the device, as well as the monthly service fee as well.
Considering the long-term impact, a DUI or DUAC conviction will have on you; then it is a good idea to get a Charleston DUI lawyer. Remember that this conviction will never be removed from your record, for every single job you apply or run in you have with the law this will come back and haunt you.
When you hire a lawyer in Charleston, ensure that they fully understand the law DUI and DUAC as well as have experience in a courtroom. The Charleston DUI lawyer will have your best interest at heart and will fight to ensure that you get the best possible outcome for your case. Even if it is a misdemeanor offense, having the professional help of a lawyer can be beneficial.