Driving Under The Influence (DUI) is a serious offense in South Carolina, with potentially severe legal and financial consequences. DUI in South Carolina is a complicated area of law that can be difficult to understand all of the consequences and pitfalls that may occur if you are ever arrested and charged with DUI. If you are arrested for a DUI in South Carolina, it’s important to understand what you can expect in terms of criminal charges, license suspension, fines and fees, and other penalties. Here is a detailed overview of what happens if you get a DUI in South Carolina:
Criminal charges: South Carolina Code §56-5-2930 defines and sets out the elements of DUI as well as the fines and potential jail time. If you are arrested for a DUI in South Carolina, you will face criminal charges. A first-time offense is typically charged as a misdemeanor, but subsequent offenses can result in felony charges. The severity of the charges will depend on factors such as your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the arrest, whether anyone was injured or killed as a result of your DUI, and whether you have any prior DUI convictions on your record.
License suspension: There are two separate and distinct suspensions that a person has the potential to experience if they are arrested for DUI in South Carolina.
IMPLIED CONSENT SUSPENSION: The first deals with the Implied Consent Tests. With the Implied Consent Test: If you REFUSE the breath test—which is ever motorist right to do, your driver’s license will be suspended for six (6) months pursuant to SC Code §56-5-2950. If your BAC is over a .15%, then your license will be suspended for ninety (90) days. You can get a new license and restore your driving privilege in two very different ways.
- REQUEST AN IMPLIED CONSENT HEARING: If you are suspended for refusing to provide a breath sample, blood test, or urine test ( as requested by the officer) or if you blow .15% BAC, your South Carolina Driver’s License will be suspended. You will be given a Grayish form that says “NOTICE OF SUSPENSION” at the top. It will set out how you can get your license back. The easiest way it to request an Implied Consent Hearing. If you flip your Notice to the back cover, you will see a series of lines to sign and directions on how to request your hearing ($200 filing fee—and MUST BE RECEIVED BY THE COURT WITHIN 30 DAYS OF SUSPENSION). You will be given a hearing date and if successful in challenging your suspension, you can go get your regular license back. During the time you are waiting for your hearing, you will have the opportunity to obtain a special license known as the T.A.L. (Temporary Alcohol License). If you win your hearing, you trade in your T.A.L. for a regular license, and if you lose, you move on to number 2 below. A great resource, written by my friend Thomas C. Nelson and edited in part by yours truly, is the Book South Carolina Implied Consent Handbook—it is available through the South Carolina Bar.
- ADSAP/AND IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICE: If you do not request an Implied Consent Hearing in a timely manner, or if you lost your Implied Consnet Hearing, then you will have to take this step in order to restore your driving privilege. The first thing you must do is enroll in the South Carolina Alcohol Drug Safety Action Program, also known as ADSAP, and have an Ignition Interlock Device installed on your vehicle.
CONVICTION OF DUI OR DUAC SUSPENSION: The second suspension pertains to persons convicted of DUI. If you are convicted of DUI, your license WILL BE SUSPENDED. If you have a BAC of .16% or higher, or if you refused to provide a breath sample during the Implied Consent Test, you will be required to have installed an Ignition Interlock Device into your vehicle.
Keep in mind that there are two suspensions (Implied Consent and the actual DUI) that a person could face. These suspensions do not count for the other, and if you have both, you have to serve them consecutively.
Fines and fees: If convicted of DUI in South Carolina, you will likely have to pay fines and fees. The amount you will have to pay will depend on the specifics of your case, including your BAC number. If you are arrested for a first offense DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of less than 0.10%, then you face a fine of up to $400 (it is actually $992.00 with all of the taxes and government assessments added to it) and/or up to thirty (30) days in jail. The higher the BAC the higher the fine and possible jail time. With a BAC of .10% up to .15%, then the fine is $500 (it is higher with add ons and assessments), and the jail time is a minimum of 72 hours and up to thirty (30) days in jail. If you have a BAC of .16% or higher, it is a fine of $1,000.00 (actually $2,262.00) and jail time from thirty (30) days as a minimum to ninety (90) days as the maximum time in jail.
In addition to fines, you may also have to pay for court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses associated with your DUI case.
Ignition interlock device: You may be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car if you are convicted of a DUI in South Carolina and/or if your license is suspended for refusing to provide a breath sample or providing one that is over .16% BAC . This device requires you to blow into a breathalyzer before starting your car, and if your BAC is above a certain level, the car will not start. The length of time you will have to use an IID will depend on the specifics of your case, but it can range from six months to several years. South Carolina Code §56-5-2941 governs when required, how installed, how monitored, removed, fees, and sets up the system to give exceptions to having this installed in your vehicle and when its use may need to be extended.
Jail time: You may face jail time if you are convicted of a DUI in South Carolina. A first-time offender can face up to 90 days in jail, but subsequent offenses can result in longer sentences. The length of your sentence will depend on factors such as your BAC at the time of the arrest, whether anyone was injured or killed as a result of your DUI, and whether you have any prior DUI convictions on your record.
Community service: You may be required to perform community service if you are convicted of a DUI in South Carolina. This can range from a few hours to several days of service. The amount of community service you will have to perform will depend on the specifics of your case, but it is typically ordered in addition to other penalties such as fines, license suspension, and jail time.
Enhancements: If you have been convicted or plead guilty or nolo contendere (‘No contest”) to either DUI (56-5-2930) or DUAC (56-5-2933), and then you are arrested for one of these charges again within ten years of the prior conviction, your new charge could be enhanced significantly, as to fines and possible prison time instead of jail time. Further, if you had previously had an Implied Consent Suspension for a previous DUI arrest, then you new Implied Consent suspension (if applicable) will also be enhanced based upon past conduct.
In addition to these penalties, a DUI conviction can also have other consequences such as increased insurance rates (SR-22 Insurance), difficulty finding employment, and damage to your reputation. It’s important to remember that every case is different, and the consequences of a DUI conviction in South Carolina will depend on the specifics of your case. If you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, it’s important to consult with an experienced DUI attorney who can help you understand your options and protect your rights.
In conclusion, getting a DUI in South Carolina can have serious legal and financial consequences. If you are arrested for a DUI and seeking legal help, contact Duffy Law Firm.