Driving home after a few drinks may not seem like a big deal to everyone, but South Carolina police and prosecutors take it extremely seriously. If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) offense, the consequences you could face may impact your future professional prospects.
Contesting drinking and driving charges is not easy, and you should not go into any stage of your criminal case without representation from a Georgetown DUI lawyer. With assistance from a seasoned criminal defense attorney, you could have a much better chance of effectively contesting your charges and securing a positive case resolution.
Consequences of Driving Under the Influence Charges
South Carolina Code of Laws §56-5-2930 allows law enforcement officers to arrest anyone who they suspect to be “materially and appreciably impaired” by alcohol or drugs. Anyone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher is presumed to be impaired, but someone with a BAC equal to or greater than 0.05 percent can still be charged with DUI if a police officer determines a person is intoxicated beyond safe vehicle operation.
What are the Penalties for a First DUI Offense?
First offenses for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated may include a $400 fine, a six-month driver’s license suspension, and anywhere from 48 hours in jail to a maximum of 30 days. However, it is often still important to work with local DUI legal counsel to contest a first-offense drunk driving charge to get minimum sentencing, as the sanctions a defendant could face upon conviction increase in severity for every additional offense.
Penalties of Repeat DUI Offenses
For example, a second offense DUI can be punished by a fine of $2,100 to $5,100, up to one year, and a one-year license suspension. Depending on the circumstances, a third offense could lead to a $6,300 fine plus significant surcharges, three years of imprisonment, and up to a four-year license suspension if the defendant’s first DUI offense occurred less than five years prior.
When Could DUI be a Felony?
If someone with three or more prior DUI convictions is pulled over and arrested for drunk driving, they may be imprisoned for a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years. This fourth or more subsequent offense would also result in the permanent suspension of a license, regardless of when their previous convictions occurred.
Additionally, any DUI offense that results in an accident can be prosecuted as a felony if that accident caused serious harm to another person. Maximum penalties for a DUI resulting in a severe bodily injury are a $10,000 fine and 15 years in prison, and any accident resulting in a fatality could result in a $25,000 fine and up to a 25-year prison sentence. A knowledgeable drunk driving lawyer in the area could provide critical guidance and support to anyone accused of a felony DUI offense.
Seek Advice from a Knowledgeable Georgetown DUI Attorney
If you have been accused of driving drunk, a single traffic stop could turn into a legal nightmare that dramatically alters the course of your life. If you fail to be proactive in defending your legal rights, you may end up suffering severe personal and professional consequences that could have been avoidable under different circumstances.
Retaining a skilled Georgetown DUI lawyer is almost always in your best interests if you have been arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving. To schedule a consultation and see what outcomes could be possible in your case, call today.