South Carolina has been working aggressively to cut down on drivers who operate vehicles under the influence after we ranked among the top in the US for DUI fatalities. While you may associate alcohol intoxication with "driving under the influence," that is not the only cause for a DUI. Illegal drugs and prescription pain killers can also be a source of impairment for drivers.
It's important to know what possible consequences you're facing if you are charged with Driving Under the Influence. Today, we'll walk you through what you may be looking at when charged with a first-offense DUI.
Certain circumstances, such as driving under the influence with children in the car, a blood-alcohol level that is a certain amount or more over the legal limit, and other problems may lead to stricter penalties even for a first offense.
First Off: Your Drivers' License Will Be Suspended
A conviction for first offense DUI will require a mandatory six-month suspension of your license unless the charge is successfully contested. Do not continue driving on a suspended license. Being pulled over while driving on a suspended license for a DUI offense can result in even harsher penalties, up to and including higher jail sentences or total removal of one's legal ability to drive.
You Will Be Sent to Counseling
To have your license reinstated upon completion of the six-month suspension, you are required to complete the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.
Some first-offense convictions, depending on circumstances involved, will also require installation of ignition interlock devices to have driving privileges reinstated.
Criminal Penalties Depend on Your BAC
Penalties for a first offense DUI are applied based on the BAC of the offender when they are arrested. If your Blood Alcohol Concentration is under .10%, you'll be looking at mandatory incarceration of two days up to a maximum of 30 days. If your BAC is above .10%, but less than .16%, you'll likely face a mandatory sentence of 3 to 30 days. Above .16%, mandatory sentencing stats at 30 days but will not be longer than 90 days.
First-time offenders may avoid these jail sentences by performing public service, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Fines will likely range from $400 to $1,000 depending on the Blood Alchohol Concentration of the arrested driver. These fees do not include costs incurred during the completion of your term of sentences, the process of license reinstatement, court costs, or any additional fees or surcharges assessed.
A first-offense DUI conviction in South Carolina will continue to affect any possible subsequent sentences or arrests for 10 years.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Be responsible. A general rule of thumb is that two drinks within one hour will usually place you near, if not over the legal limit for BAC. Three drinks consumed one after the other willlikely place you over the limit, no matter what your weight is.
At Bluestein Attorneys, we have worked with Criminal Defense cases, including DUI, drug offenses, property crimes, and more. To schedule your FREE consultation, give us a call at (803) 674-8817 or contact us online at any time! We're happy to sit down with you and discuss the details of your unique situation and discuss what steps to take next. At Bluestein Attorneys, we're here to help.