Everyone makes mistakes. It only seems right that those mistakes should not follow a person around for the rest of the person’s life. Unfortunately, when a person has been convicted of a DUI, the offense will stay with them. If you have been convicted of a DUI in South Carolina, it will remain on your criminal record forever. With that said, a DUI will be removed from your driving record after 10 years.
Also, if you are not convicted of another DUI, your insurance premiums will eventually decrease. Due to the fact that a DUI will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life, it is crucial that you have an effective defense that can help you to fight the charge. A South Carolina criminal defense lawyer at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel LLC, can provide that defense. Contact us now to get started with a consultation about your case.
What Is the Difference Between a DUI and a DUAC?
The DUI laws in South Carolina address three different blood alcohol levels. Your blood alcohol level will determine what you get charged with if a police officer arrests you for suspected impaired driving. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits in South Carolina are:
- Lower than 0.05 – It is assumed that a person is not under the influence of alcohol.
- Higher than 0.05 but lower than 0.08 – There is no assumption that a person is under the influence, but other evidence is considered to determine if a person is impaired.
- Higher than 0.08 – It is assumed that a person is under the influence of alcohol.
These limits are important when understanding the difference between DUI and DUAC. A DUI charge simply means that a police officer had reason to believe that a person was impaired – even if their BAC was lower than 0.08. A police officer may notice that a person is exhibiting signs of impairment such as weaving in and out of lanes and failing to obey traffic signs and signals.
When a person has a BAC higher than 0.08, the person will face charges of a DUAC. The difference between this charge and a DUI is that a person does not have to exhibit signs of impairment to be charged with a DUAC. However, a person can only face DUAC charges if they are tested within two hours of the traffic stop, and if the officer had legal justification to pull the person over.
How Can You Avoid Getting a DUI on Your Record?
Being charged with a DUI is a scary experience, but it is important to remember that an arrest is not a conviction. You may have defenses available to you that can help you to beat the charge, including:
- The arrest was unlawful – When a police officer had no legal cause to pull you over for a traffic stop, and no legal reason to arrest or detain you, this violation of your rights can serve as a defense.
- You were not impaired – If your BAC was lower than 0.08, and you were not showing signs of impairment, this evidence can be used to challenge the charge.
- The officer did not record the arrest – Under South Carolina law, when an officer stops and arrests a driver for a DUI, the officer must use the dash cam to videotape the entire incident. A failure to take this step may be used to weaken the prosecution’s case.
- The Breathalyzer was not working correctly – Breathalyzer machines are notorious for being quite delicate, and their calibration gets easily thrown off. Machines that are not working correctly can give a BAC reading that does not properly reflect the driver’s actual BAC.
When working with a South Carolina DUI lawyer at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel LLC, we will know what defense is most effective for your case. A strong defense is crucial as pre-trial intervention programs are not available for DUI cases even when it is a person’s first offense.
Can You Get a DUI Expunged or Seal Your Records?
Getting your record expunged refers to a legal process that removes the charge from your record and destroys it. It is as though you were never charged or convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, a DUI cannot be expunged from your record, and these records cannot be sealed, either. However, sometimes, a charge can be removed from your record such as if you were found not guilty at trial, or if the prosecutor dismissed the DUI charge.
What Happens to Your License If You Get a DUI?
A number of things can happen to your license if you are pulled over or convicted of a DUI in South Carolina. If you refuse to take a test, such as a Breathalyzer, your license can be suspended between six months and fifteen months. If you submit to a test, and the results are higher than 0.15, your license can be suspended for one to four months. The amount of time your license is suspended will depend on your prior history and whether you have any previous offenses.
In case your license is suspended under South Carolina’s implied consent laws, you can attend an administrative hearing to ask that your license is reinstated. At this hearing, you can request a temporary alcohol license. This license allows you to continue driving until you receive the results of the administrative hearing. If your hearing is successful, your license can be reinstated.
A first-time DUI conviction will typically result in a suspension of your driver’s license for six months. A second conviction will result in a one-year license suspension, and a third conviction will result in a license suspension of two years. A fourth DUI will result in the permanent revocation of your driver’s license.
Get Help from a South Carolina DUI Defense Lawyer
DUI charges can be intimidating to face, but you do not have to do it alone. At McKinney, Tucker & Lemel LLC, our Rock Hill DUI defense lawyers know how to defend against these charges, and we will work tirelessly to pursue a positive outcome for you. If you have been charged with a DUI, contact us today to arrange a meeting with one of our attorneys.
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.