The penalties for a first-time DUI offense in South Carolina are not as severe as they are for repeat offenses. Still, the consequences can wreak havoc on your life. If convicted, you could spend time in jail, pay fines, lose your driver’s license, be forced to obtain special insurance, and suffer a negative impact on your personal and professional life as well.
According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS), police made almost 22,000 driving under the influence (DUI) arrests in our state in 2017 alone. In other words, city police, sheriff’s officers and state troopers arrested 60 people every day for drunk or drugged driving. It’s safe to say that many of those people had never been charged with a DUI or any other offense before.
If you were recently arrested for a DUI in Rock Hill, Fort Mill or surrounding areas, make sure that you contact McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC. We have deep ties to the communities we serve, and we have dedicated our careers to making sure that our clients get treated fairly. We will work hard to pursue the best result possible for you. Call or reach us online for an immediate consultation.
Consequences for a First-Time DUI in South Carolina
Under S.C. Code § 56-5-2933(A)(1), a conviction for a first-time DUI offense can result in up to a $400 fine or imprisonment between a minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of 30 days if the blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) is less than .10 or the breath test is refused. When a person’s BAC is at least 0.10 percent but less than 0.16 percent, the offense is punishable by a fine of $500 or imprisonment between 72 hours and 30 days.
If a person’s BAC is 0.16 or more, the person can face penalties that include a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment between 30 and 90 days. In lieu of minimum incarceration in these cases, the court can order a person to do community service.
These base fines more than double upon conviction when court costs, fees, and assessments are added.
DUI convictions will also typically result in increased automobile insurance premiums. Those convicted of DUI are required to obtain SR-22 insurance when they reinstate their driving privilege. This SR22-certificate, which is an indicator of a “high-risk” insurance policy, triggers these premiums and has to be maintained for three years.
Additionally, a person in South Carolina who is convicted of DUI must enroll in and complete the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP) certified by the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS). Offenders must enroll within 30 days of their convictions.
DAODAS determines the cost of services provided by each certified ADSAP. The person will bear the costs of services. Those costs typically are $500 for education services and $2,000 for treatment services, or a total of around $2,500. While a person cannot be denied services due to his or her inability to pay, they must perform 50 hours of community service instead.
License Suspension for a South Carolina DUI
When a person is convicted of a DUI in South Carolina, the person’s driver’s license will be suspended for six months. A person who enrolls in an ADSAP program, however, may be able to get a provisional license.
If a DUI conviction involves a BAC of 0.15 or higher, then the person will not be eligible for a provisional license. Instead, an ignition interlock device (IID) will have to be installed on any vehicle that the person owns or operates for six months.
When a person refuses to submit to a breath, blood or urine test, the person’s driver’s license will be suspended for six months. If the test results are .15 or higher, a 30 day suspension results. This is an administrative license suspension that is totally separate from the suspensions from a conviction. Still, the driver could be eligible for route-restricted driving privileges which allow the person to drive to school and work.
Administrative suspensions can be challenged by filing an appeal, but this must be done within 30 days of the arrest. It is crucial to see an attorney as soon as possible after the arrest to make sure this appeal isn’t forfeit!
Employment Consequences for a DUI
When you are convicted of a DUI, the conviction will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life. A DUI conviction cannot be expunged or sealed in South Carolina. So, a conviction could have lingering consequences for you.
For individuals in specific professions, including those that require driving, a DUI conviction could result in the termination of your employment. Days missed from work due to incarceration can also create an awkward situation for you and your employer. Many employers will be uncomfortable if you tell them you have to miss work for violating the law. It can erode your employer’s trust in your decision making, leadership and dependability. Such situations could lead to termination or limit your opportunities for advancement within the company.
While a conviction could impact your current employment, it can also negatively affect your ability to secure future jobs as well. Many employers perform background checks before hiring. They may not consider candidates who have a criminal conviction. People with convictions on their record may find their applications passed over for other candidates, especially in professions like law enforcement, medicine and education.
South Carolina Code § 56-5-2930(I) establishes that a person accused of a DUI violation is afforded the right to challenge certain factors.
How Can Our Rock Hill DUI Defense Lawyers Help You?
When you work with McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, we will explore all possible defenses for you. Some of the issues which often arise in DUI cases in South Carolina are:
- Was the person lawfully arrested or detained?
- How much time passed between the person’s arrest and the chemical test?
- Was the person given a written copy of and verbally informed of his or her rights?
- Did the person consent to take a breath, blood or urine test?
- Was the reported BAC at the time of testing 0.08 percent or more?
- Was the individual who administered the test or took samples qualified to do so?
- Were tests conducted in accordance with state law and regulations?
- Was the breath test machine working correctly?
- Did the police violate your constitutional rights at any point when trying to obtain evidence to use against you, including the stop of your vehicle?
At McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, we understand the significant toll that DUI arrests take on people. We will help you to understand your rights and fight for the best possible outcome. To protect your rights and interests, you need to get started on your defense right away. Contact us now for a consultation.
Gary C. Lemel is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest University School of Law who has deep background as a criminal defense attorney in Rock Hill. Over the course of his career, he has handled everything from traffic violations to death penalty litigation. His current practice spans multiple counties and focuses on cases involving driving under the influence, drug charges and high-level felonies. He also serves on the board of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and as a member of the South Carolina Bar’s Judicial Qualifications Committee and Public Defender Standards Committee.