Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense that can have lasting consequences on your personal and public life. In South Carolina, being convicted of a DUII can result in many penalties, including court fines, jail time, vehicle impoundment, and the loss of driving privileges.
Because DUI significantly contributes to traffic accidents and fatalities, South Carolina courts employ a zero-tolerance policy when dealing with these charges. If you’re pulled over for DUI, knowing how these arrests function is essential.
Know South Carolina’s DUI Laws
In South Carolina, it’s against the law to operate a vehicle after consuming drugs or alcohol. The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08%. However, if you are under 21, the legal limit is 0.02%.
Nonetheless, even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you may still be charged with a DUI whenever an officer suspects your driving ability is impaired due to drugs or alcohol.
Know the Consequences of a DUI
Not all drinking and driving charges are made the same. In South Carolina, penalties for these charges can vary, depending on numerous factors.
First Offense DUI
A first-offense DUI is a misdemeanor in South Carolina. If convicted, a person can face 90 days in jail, fines up to $1,000, and the suspension of their driver’s license for six months.
In some cases, the courts may also request the installation of an ignition interlock device. These devices require drivers to check their BAC levels each time they want to operate their vehicles. They also come with expensive usage fees.
Second Offense DUI
A second offense DUI is also classified as a misdemeanor, but the penalties are more severe than a first offense.
A conviction can result in three years of jail time, a fine of up to $6,500, and the loss of driving privileges for one year.
Third or Subsequent Offenses
A third or subsequent offense DUI is charged as a felony crime in South Carolina. Convictions can come with a five-year prison sentence, a fine upwards of $10,000, and the loss of driving privileges for two years or more.
Your Obligations During a DUI Stop
If you’re pulled over for a DUI in South Carolina, there are several things you should do to protect your rights and avoid self-incrimination.
As with other traffic stops, you’ll be asked to provide your registration, driver’s license, and proof of insurance. However, if a police officer asks if you have been drinking, you are not obligated to answer. Per the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you can choose to remain silent. Anything you say to an officer may be used as evidence.
Field Sobriety Tests
If an officer asks you to perform a field sobriety test, you have the right to refuse. Under South Carolina law, these tests are voluntary, and refusal cannot be used against you.
Similarly, you also have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test. However, refusing a breathalyzer test can automatically suspend your driver’s license for six months, even if you aren’t charged.
DUI Defense Attorneys in Spartanburg, South Carolina
If you’re pulled over for a DUI, you must remain calm and respectful but also protect your rights. If you are charged, you’ll need to seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the legal process and work to protect your rights and your future.
The Law Office of Mo Abusaft specializes in criminal defense in Spartanburg and across South Carolina. Connect with us today to discuss your case and learn about your options for fighting a DUI charge.