While having a drink of alcohol and then driving a motor vehicle is typically acceptable, driving when you are impaired is illegal under state law. The penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) can be severe and impact your personal and professional life. If you or a loved one is facing drinking and driving charges, it could be beneficial to contact a North Charleston DUI lawyer for advice as soon as possible.

A DUI conviction could create a criminal record and have other collateral consequences such a driver’s license suspension, having to complete alcohol or drug counseling programs and installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. A subsequent DUI conviction carries the potential for even more significant penalties. Consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney could be the best way to fight back against alcohol-related charges effectively.

DUI Arrests in North Charleston

Police officers are allowed to stop vehicles if they have a reasonable suspicion that the drivers have committed any criminal activities or traffic violations. They can also stop motorists at DUI or sobriety checkpoints that law enforcement agencies sometimes operate. If an officer determines that a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol, that person could face arrest for a DUI or DUAC (Driving with Unlawful Alcohol Concentration) offense, depending on the circumstances.

Since a DUAC charge requires proof of a specific BAC level, police officers typically request motorists suspected of drug or alcohol impairment to undergo breath or blood tests. S.C. Code § 56-5-2946 requires motorists to submit to testing as a condition of having a driver’s license, which is referred to as the implied consent law in most states. As a DUI legal advisor in the area will advise, motorists should not refuse to undergo testing as violating the state implied consent law forces them to face an automatic license suspension.

What is the Definition of DUI and DUAC?

S.C. Code § 56-5-2930 defines a DUI as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that it significantly impairs the ability to drive safely. Police can arrest individuals on DUI charges regardless of their level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Even if their BAC measures less than .08 percent, drivers can face DUI charges based solely on their impairment level.

Under S.C. Code § 56-5-2933, however, drivers can face separate criminal charges of driving with an unlawful BAC and be charged with a DUAC. Unlike DUI charges, DUAC charges require evidence that drivers had a BAC of .08 percent or more at the time of their arrests. Test results are enough to support a DUAC charge, with no need for any evidence showing impairment.

Penalties for DUI or DUAC Convictions

Although they are separate criminal offenses, the potential penalties for DUI and DUAC convictions in North Charleston are the same. The severity of the penalties depends primarily on whether the individual has a prior DUI or DUAC conviction within the past ten years. Specific aggravating factors surrounding these offenses can lead to additional or harsher penalties.

What are the Penalties for a First DUI Offense?

A first DUI or DUAC offense may result in a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours, a maximum jail sentence of 30 days, and a license suspension. A conviction for a first offense can result in a $400 fine. Individuals may have the option of serving the minimum jail sentence around their work schedules or completing community service hours instead of serving jail time.

Consequences for Multiple DUI or DUAC Convictions

After a second DUI or DUAC conviction, one can expect to face a jail sentence ranging from five days to one year, as well as thousands in fines. Subsequent convictions may result in progressively longer prison sentences and even more considerable fines. People facing DUI or DUAC charges may want to contact a local legal professional to avoid or minimize these criminal penalties.

Call a North Charleston DUI Attorney for Guidance

DUI charges are some of the most common criminal charges that occur in state courts. Nonetheless, the potential repercussions of a DUI or DUAC conviction can have a life-altering effect, especially for subsequent offenses. A North Charleston DUI lawyer could be instrumental in helping you successfully defend yourself against these possibly damaging criminal charges.

Although your inclination may be to cooperate with police by answering questions and complying with their requests, you risk incriminating yourself in doing so. Getting legal advice can be vital to effectively minimize the full range of penalties that you might face. Call today to learn more about your options.