As one would expect, third-offense DUI charges are prosecuted more vigorously than first or second offense charges because prosecutors deem repeat offenders as substantial threats to public safety. Understandably, repeat offenders are much less likely to receive a plea offer, let alone a favorable one, as an option to resolve their case short of trial.
Still, a charge for a third DUI offense is not an automatic jail sentence. A Charleston third-offense DUI lawyer could work with judges and prosecutors to preserve a defendant’s future and protect them from, especially serious penalties. If you are facing charges, consult with a dedicated DUI attorney.
Common Penalties for a Charleston Third-Time DUI
Under South Carolina law, DUI penalties are more severe if the individual has one or more prior DUI convictions on their record within the last ten years. For a third-offense within ten years of the previous two, the penalty for a conviction ranges between a minimum 60 days in jail and up to five years in prison. Additionally, the fine for a third-offense DUI conviction in South Carolina ranges from a minimum of $3,800 up to $10,000, depending on the blood alcohol content of the defendant at the time of their arrest.
In addition to incarceration and a fine, a third-time DUI conviction triggers a number of consequences regarding insurance rates, substance abuse class completion requirements, and mandatory ignition interlock device requirements.
Third-offense DUI charges in Charleston are handled in Charleston County General Sessions Court. There are no diversion programs for third-offense DUI charges in South Carolina, but probation may be possible. The consequences of a conviction are severe, which is why it is critical for defendants to seek the services of a third-offense DUI lawyer in Charleston.
How Do Courts Treat Third-Offense DUI Charges?
Courts are bound to apply the same legal principles and rules to each case, regardless of whether the defendant is a repeat offender. Should, however, that repeat offender be convicted by a jury, judges have no choice but to sentence the defendant according to the applicable enhanced penalties associated with a third-offense DUI. Under those circumstances, most judges will conclude incarceration is the only option left given the defendant’s history.
An experienced Charleston third-offense DUI attorney builds the defense in a particular case the same way they would with a first or second-time DUI. Principled, organized, and strategic case analysis and investigation on the front end is vital to a DUI case. A seasoned attorney should know the defendant and the entire circumstances surrounding their arrest in order to effectively represent them.
Important Evidence in DUI Cases
For a third-offense DUI charge, a lawyer may consider factors such as whether or not there is legal justification for the traffic stop, if there are surrounding environmental factors that may have impacted performance on field sobriety tests, whether the officer administering the field sobriety tests has the requisite training, and if there are any abnormalities with the breathalyzer machine.
An attorney may also consider if the defendant has an underlying substance abuse or mental health issue that contributed to the particular situation that led to their arrest.
Contact a Charleston Third-Offense DUI Attorney for Help
A third charge for DUI is often a sign of a severe substance abuse problem. An experienced Charleston third-offense DUI lawyer could work to alleviate the most severe penalties and work toward a sentence that allows the defendant to receive adequate treatment. If you or a loved one are facing a third DUI charge, reach out to a criminal defense attorney today.