Being arrested and charged with DUI can be a traumatic experience for anyone, but the arrest is just the beginning of your troubles. Once you are released from jail, you now have a bond and a court date where the officer, prosecutor, and court are going to want you to plead guilty.
You may have an implied consent suspension that needs immediate action so it does not become permanent. Your booking photo is now available for anyone to see online, and just the fact that you were arrested and charged may result in you losing your job.
If you remember just one thing from this article, it should be that you need to contact a SC DUI defense lawyer immediately. You have questions that need to be answered quickly. You have deadlines that you may not be aware of. And there is a good chance that you may have defenses you are not aware of.
In the meantime, we will try to answer some of the more common questions that our clients have below…
Common Questions About DUI Charges in SC
To help give you a better understanding of how DUI charges work in South Carolina, we’ve rounded up some answers to frequently asked questions we routinely hear from our clients.
1. Will I Go to Jail For a DUI?
You can go to jail even for a first offense DUI charge. Your odds of going to jail are much greater if you do not retain a DUI attorney quickly….
Even a first offense DUI in SC can carry mandatory jail sentences although some can be waived if you complete an obscene amount of community service hours. Second, third, and fourth offense DUI charges carry correspondingly longer mandatory minimum sentences with a fourth offense DUI carrying a minimum of one year and up to seven years in prison as a potential sentence.
2. Will I Lose My License if I Get a DUI?
There are two ways that you can lose your license for a DUI in SC. If you refuse to take the breathalyzer, or if you take the breathalyzer and blow a .15 or greater, your license is automatically suspended under South Carolina’s implied consent laws.
You will need to request an administrative hearing with the DUI within 30 days to challenge the implied consent suspension. Once you request the hearing, you can then get a temporary license that is good until the hearing date. If you do not request the hearing, or if you lose the hearing, the suspension will be upheld and you will have to enroll in ADSAP, pay reinstatement fees, and possibly install an ignition interlock device before you can drive again.
Implied consent is an “administrative penalty” that is handled through SC’s administrative courts. Separately, if you are convicted of the DUI in criminal court, your license will be suspended for the conviction. At this point, you will have enroll in ADSAP, pay reinstatement fees, possibly install an ignition interlock device, and purchase SR-22 insurance before you can get your license back.
3. Do I Need a Lawyer if I Get a DUI?
Anyone can represent themselves in any court case if they are mentally competent. That doesn’t mean it is a good idea. DUI law in SC is complex – your DUI lawyer in Myrtle Beach will be familiar with the local courts, police, and prosecutors. They will be familiar with the constantly-changing DUI laws and appellate opinions, they know how to negotiate effectively with your prosecutor, and they will be able to spot the issues that may get your case dismissed or allow you to win your case at trial.
4. If I Can Easily Pay the Fine for My DUI, Shouldn’t I Pay It and Move On?
Paying the fine for a DUI, or any charge, is an admission of guilt and it is a guilty plea. Even for a first offense DUI charge, you will most likely have to appear in court, admit guilt, and be sentenced by a judge. Do you want to make a decision like this that will affect your license, employment, family, and criminal history without the advice of an attorney?
Also, remember that DUI penalties increase for each subsequent offense. If you have a DUI conviction:
- Police will see it every time they check your license.
- A new DUI charge will automatically be a second offense and it will be sent to General Sessions Court instead of the magistrate court.
- The potential penalties, including mandatory minimum sentences and license penalties, increase for each subsequent DUI.
5. Are SC DUIs Misdemeanors or Felonies?
DUI first, second, or third offense is classified as a misdemeanor under SC law. A fourth offense DUI or a felony DUI with great bodily injury or death is classified as a SC felony.
6. Can a SC DUI Be Expunged?
No. In South Carolina, no traffic offense can be expunged from your criminal record, and DUI is a traffic offense as well as a criminal charge.
7. Do SC DUIs Transfer from state to state?
Yes. South Carolina will transmit information on your conviction to your home state’s DMV, and you will be penalized in your home state based on your home state’s DUI or implied consent laws.
You will still have to enroll in and complete ADSAP in your home state, and you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your car.
8. Do SC DUIs Show Up on a Background Check?
Yes. DUI in SC is a criminal offense, it will appear on your criminal history, and it can never be expunged from your record.
Facing a DUI charge in South Carolina?
Your Myrtle Beach DUI defense lawyer at Coastal Law, LLC can help you to get the evidence you need in your case, negotiate with police and prosecutors, get your case dismissed, or try your case to a jury.
Don’t take a chance on your future with a DUI conviction. Call us now at (843) 488-5000, or fill out our online form to set up a free consultation about your case.