The attorneys of Truslow & Truslow answer questions we receive frequently. Contact us at (803) 256-6276 if you have any questions for our Columbia DUI attorneys.
In accordance with South Carolina state statutes, drivers do have the legal right to refuse a breathalyzer test. However, refusal of the test does come with some costly consequences. Drivers who refuse the test will have their license immediately reprimanded and suspended for at least six months. This suspension period is based on your past driving record and whether you have previously refused a breathalyzer test. Refusing the test may not always be a wise decision, and it is best to consult with your attorney before any action after an arrest.
Penalties for a first time DUI offenses often vary depending on the intoxication level of the driver. Fines typically range from $400 to $1,000 before administrative fees. If the driver is found to have a BAC that is barely over the legal limit of 0.08 percent, they may face between two and 30 days in jail. If the driver has a BAC over double the legal limit, they can face jail time between 30 and 90 days. In any case, jail time may be replaced with community service hours at the judge’s discretion.
Even after a first DUI offense, your license will be suspended for at least six months. This suspension period can increase and is contingent on your level of intoxication at the time of arrest and your prior driving record. The suspension on your license will be released after you complete an alcohol and drug awareness course and serve the term of the suspension.
Unfortunately, even first time DUI offenders can see jail time. This jail time is to be at a minimum of two days and not to exceed 30 days. However, judges will often grant the option for community service hours rather than jail time for a nonviolent offender.
DUIs carry with them various charges. While the majority of them are criminal punishments, DUIs do have additional charges that an offender can incur. These surcharges often consist of administrative, court processing, and other miscellaneous fees. Another common example of a DUI surcharge is the cost associated with an ignition interlock device that the court may require a driver to install. The installation and rental costs will solely be incurred by the offender with no government subsidies.
Yes. The United States Supreme Court basic upheld the constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints (also referred to as “roadblocks”) with its decision in Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990). The Court voted 6-3 that DUI roadblocks satisfied the Fourth Amendment standard of reasonable search and seizure because the state has a “substantial government interest” to prevent drunk driving. When it comes to DUI checkpoints in South Carolina, law enforcement needs to have a valid reason for the checkpoint, the checkpoint requires a supervisory appeal, and the date and location must be publicized. Law enforcement agencies will advertise DUI checkpoints in local newspapers or some other medium to notify the public about checkpoints. When the checkpoint is administered, vehicles must be stopped in a regular pattern (every other vehicle or every fourth vehicle, etc.) and the stops should be brief. Always remember that while South Carolina’s implied consent law holds that all drivers must submit to chemical testing, nobody is required to perform field sobriety tests. When a checkpoint is not operated in accordance with state law, it can lead to all criminal charges stemming from the checkpoint being thrown out. Even if you are arrested for DUI at a checkpoint, other issues with how breath tests were administered could impact their accuracy and result in criminal charges being dismissed.
The answer is more than likely to be yes, especially if you are required by a court to obtain SR-22 insurance, which is a special category of insurance specifically for high-risk drivers. Insurance companies will routinely use DUI convictions as the basis for increases in premiums, and drivers can have trouble finding comparable rates because competitors are likely to use the same driving records when determining the rates that will be offered. Insurance companies must review a driver’s record every time they are preparing to renew an agreement. Insure.com said its rate analysis showed drivers with DUIs in South Carolina face a 59 percent rate increase. The personal finance website ValuePenguin found an average difference of at least 31.3 percent between drivers with DUIs and those without them when examining the rates of three major insurance providers. ValuePenguin noted that major factors that can dictate insurance rates include a driver’s age, the amount of time that has passed since a DUI conviction, the number of DUI convictions a driver has, and the company providing the insurance.
Yes. South Carolina is a member of the Driver License Agreement (DLA), an interstate compact that requires all states to honor licenses issued by other member states, report traffic convictions to the licensing state, and maintain a complete driver’s history. When you have prior drunk or drugged driving convictions in other states, you can be almost certain that a prosecutor will use those previous convictions to seek enhanced penalties. A prior conviction needs to be considered a predicate offense, which means that the applicable state law must be similar to the South Carolina DUI statute. Most other state laws are considered grounds for predicate offenses in South Carolina. When a South Carolina driver is arrested for DUI in another state, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles can still impose a suspension of the alleged offender’s driver’s license and may be able to order the person to install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) on all vehicle they own or operate under Emma’s Law, the state law requiring offenders with BACs of 0.15 or greater to install and maintain IIDs for six months.
No, you cannot. An expungement, or an Order for Destruction of Arrest Records, is a court order that essentially destroys a criminal record, but its application is very limited. Courts typically limit expungements to minor crimes and first-time offenses, but even then limit the crimes they can be used for. The South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate both passed Act No. 254, a bill that sought to expand the number of people eligible for expungement, but it was vetoed by Governor Henry McMaster before both houses of the General Assembly overrode the veto (108-1 in the House of Representatives and 35-5 in the Senate). Still, the only traffic offense that can be expunged in South Carolina is a first offense for failure to stop when signaled by a law enforcement vehicle, but all other traffic offenses, including DUI convictions, cannot be expunged. You can have a DUI expunged only if you were found not guilty of the DUI charge or the charge was dismissed. Convictions remain on your record permanently, but keep in mind that the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles only offers records dating back as far as 10 years.
The phrase “wet reckless” applies to a reckless driving charge that an alleged offender usually agrees to plead guilty instead of DUI. Wet reckless is a common kind of plea agreement reached in certain DUI cases when a prosecutor might be uncertain about the likelihood of a conviction for DUI. The reckless driving conviction acts as a way of showing the alleged offender was still charged with a crime. It is important to understand that a reckless driving conviction can still carry serious penalties, including a possible fine and points being added to your driving record. A conviction could also impact your automobile insurance rates. Repeat reckless driving convictions can lead to driver’s license suspensions, and two reckless driving convictions will result in a 90-day driver’s license suspension with no option for a provisional or route-restricted license. Three reckless driving convictions can lead a person being declared a habitual offender and having their license suspended for five years. You must be certain that you understand all of the possible consequences of a reckless driving conviction before you agree to one of these plea deals. In some cases, accepting a wet reckless might not be in a person’s best interests. A wet reckless plea agreement could also involve a possible pre-trial intervention (PTI) requirement that an alleged offender will need to satisfy.
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