DUI Defense in Bluffton, SC & Hilton Head Island, SC
South Carolina prosecutors take DUI charges seriously. In South Carolina, it is not illegal to have one drink and drive. However, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle when the driver’s faculties are materially and appreciably impaired due to alcohol or a controlled substance. Being convicted of a DUI has lasting implications on a person’s professional and private life. Those convicted of a DUI face a driver’s license suspension, jail time, and hefty fines.
South Carolina’s DUI Laws
Adults aged 21 and older can be charged with a DUI when driving with a blood-alcohol concentration above .08%. Commercial drivers can face DUI charges when operating a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .04% or higher. Prosecutors can convict drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher of “per se DUI” regardless of the driver’s actual impairment.
Additionally, drivers can face DUI charges even if they have not taken a blood or breathalyzer test. In the absence of a test, a prosecutor need only prove that the driver was “under the influence” of drugs or alcohol to the extent that the driver’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle were materially and appreciably impaired. The attorneys at Bannon Law Group, LLC, have successfully handled all of the various types of DUI charges in South Carolina, including:
- Flying while under the influence
- Driving while under the influence of drugs
- DUI on a military base
- DUI and underage drinking (under 21)
- Boating while under the influence
- Felony DUI
- First-time DUI
- Second, third, or multiple DUI
- Commercial drivers license (CDL) DUI
Minor DUI Charges in South Carolina
In South Carolina, drivers under 21 years of age can be convicted of a DUI, even if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is only at .02% or higher. South Carolina takes a nearly zero-tolerance attitude towards minors drinking and driving. For some, drinking half a beer can and driving two hours later can result in a blood alcohol concentration of .02%. Consulting with an experienced DUI lawyer is essential for minors who have been charged with a DUI. If convicted, they will have a criminal record that could make it difficult for them to obtain employment in certain careers or secure housing in the future.
South Carolina DUI Penalties
The penalties for a DUI in South Carolina depend on various factors, such as the number of prior DUI convictions and the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration level. South Carolina courts will consider whether the defendant has been convicted of a DUI within the last two years. Under South Carolina law, a prior DUI conviction in another state will be counted against the defendant. The penalties for a DUI conviction in South Carolina are as follows:
- First offense: Jail sentence between 48 hours and one year
- Second offense: Jail sentence between five days and three years and a fine between $2,100 and $6,500
- Third offense: Jail sentence between 60 days and five years and a fine between $3,800 and $10,000
The penalties listed above are the minimum and maximum jail time and fines that a first, second, and third time DUI defendant faces. However, the penalties change depending on the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration.
The Alcohol Drug Safety Action Program
Drivers must also enroll in an Alcohol Drug Safety Action Program after being convicted of a DUI in South Carolina. The defendants will need to obtain an alcohol and Drug Assessment after being convicted and prove that they have followed the practitioner’s recommended treatment. Those convicted of a first time DUI may be eligible for community service instead of serving jail time. The amount of community service and posed by the judge equals the amount of jail time the defendant would have been required to serve in jail.
Driver’s License Suspension
In addition to jail time and fines, drivers also faced driver’s license suspensions or restrictions that can make it difficult for them to commute to and from work and engage in their daily activities. First time DUI offenders will receive a six-month driver’s license suspension. The driver can secure a temporary provisional license but requires completion of the driver’s treatment requirements.
When drivers refuse to be tested or test with a blood alcohol concentration of .15% or higher, they will not be able to obtain a provisional license and will need to pay to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on their vehicle. The amount of time a driver’s license will be suspended increases for second, third, and subsequent offenses. For first, second, and third DUI convictions, judges will immobilize defendants’ vehicles that do not have IID devices installed, requiring a temporary license plate forfeiture.
Contact a South Carolina DUI Defense Lawyer Today
If you are facing DUI charges, you need an experienced DUI defense lawyer. The consequences of a DUI conviction go beyond jail time and paying fines. Your entire future is at stake. A DUI conviction can result in lost job opportunities and the suspension of your driver’s license, making it difficult for you to commute.
The experienced DUI defense lawyers at Bannon Law Group, LLC will investigate your case to develop a compelling defense strategy on your behalf. We have helped many South Carolina defendants get their cases dismissed and charges reduced. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.