An allegation that operated a motor vehicle while intoxicated could have grave implications for both your personal freedom and your future career prospects. Even a first offense could force you to spend a few days in jail. Additionally, if you cause injury to another person while intoxicated in a car or are convicted of enough subsequent offenses in South Carolina, a drunk driving charge may be classified as a felony.
No matter what prior record you have, it is important to seek advice from a qualified criminal defense attorney after an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC). A seasoned Hanahan DUI lawyer could go over the evidence in your case with you and help you construct a cohesive and comprehensive legal defense.
How Could I Be Charged for a DUI?
There are two ways a person can be charged with a crime for driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated, both of which may result in the same punishments. First, anyone whom a law enforcement officer thinks is “materially and appreciably impaired” by alcohol or drugs may be charged with a DUI under South Carolina Code of Laws §56-5-2930.
Second, a driver may be arrested and charged with a DUAC under S.C. Code §56-5-29333 if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit applicable to them. For most drivers, the applicable legal limit for BAC is 0.08 percent, however, commercial drivers cannot exceed 0.04 percent, and the limit for underage drivers is 0.02 percent.
Regardless, any test result that shows an illegal BAC may be considered presumptive proof that someone is intoxicated, meaning that they could be charged with a DUI. A qualified Hanahan DUI legal advisor could help someone accused of an alcohol-related offense understand the charges against them and plan an effective legal defense.
What are the Penalties for a DUI Conviction?
Drinking and driving-related charges are punished the same way under South Carolina state law. A first conviction for either offense may lead to a $400 fine, up to 30 days in jail, and a driver’s license suspension of six months, with higher maximum penalties available if the defendant’s BAC exceeded a range of 0.10 percent to 0.16 percent when they were stopped. Defendants may also be obligated to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle after their license is restored.
Second DUI Offense Penalties
Subsequent convictions may result in substantially increased criminal penalties. The maximum fine for a second DUI or DUAC offense can range from $5,100 to $6,500 depending on the defendant’s BAC when they were pulled over, as well as a one to three years jail sentence and the potential of having their licensed suspended for a year. Likewise, a third offense could result in fines of $6,300 to $7,500, three to five years in jail, and a two to four-year license suspension.
Penalties for Three or More DUIs
Finally, anyone who has been convicted three or more times on similar charges before may face felony consequences if they are arrested for drunk driving again, meaning that they could be imprisoned for up to seven years and have their driver’s license permanently revoked. Given how severe these sanctions can become after repeat offenses, it is usually crucial to retain a skilled DUI representative in the area even if a person has never been arrested for drunk driving before.
Talk to a Hanahan DUI Attorney Today
Drunk driving is one of several offenses in South Carolina that is punished more harshly the more times someone is convicted of it. Depending on your circumstances, the difference between a first and second conviction for DUI or DUAC could be hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fines and a month in jail versus a maximum of a full year.
If you were recently pulled over for drunk driving, you should act quickly to protect your legal rights and best interests. Get in touch with a Hanahan DUI lawyer today to start working on your case.