When you are facing consequences for a DUI charge, you are dealing with a stressful situation that will have serious effects on your life. The thing that you need the most is an experienced DUI lawyer in Florence, SC as soon as you have been arrested. McCall Law in Florence provides you with sensible criminal defense and legal representation that depends on your own specific circumstances.
Penalties for DUI in South Carolina
South Carolina has one of the highest rates of drunk driving fatalities in the country. As a result, police officers try to be vigilant in making traffic stops and arrests.
In South Carolina, the scale of penalties for a DUI conviction depends on how many offenses you have:
- For the first offense, you will face 48 hours to 30 days in jail, along with a mandatory six-month suspension of your license and a fine of up to $400. The penalties can escalate the higher your blood alcohol content. For a first offense, the judge could sentence you to community service in lieu of jail time. The court could also levy a fine instead of jail time. If your BAC was .15 or over on the first offense, you would need an ignition interlock device for six months.
- For a second offense, you would face 5 days to one year in jail, along with the mandatory license suspension of one year. Again, the penalties escalate based on your BAC. For example, if your BAC was .16 or greater, you would face a sentence between 90 days and 3 years in prison.
- For a third offense, the penalty rises to 60 days to three years in prison. You would face a mandatory two-year license suspension. In addition, law enforcement will also seize your car. If your BAC was over .16, the jail sentence increases to a maximum of five years. On a third offense, you will serve actual time in prison.
There are additional serious penalties for a DUI that causes great bodily injury or death.
As you can see, there is a wide range of outcomes in a DUI case. Your Florence DUI defense attorney will work for you to obtain the best possible resolution to your case. The prosecutor may be willing to recommend a reduced penalty in exchange for your guilty plea.
The Difference Between DUI and DUAC in South Carolina
In practice, there is not much difference between a DUI and DUAC under South Carolina law. Both offenses have the same exact penalties. Both would leave you with a lasting criminal record that could affect you going forward.
DUI is based on your actual ability to operate a motor vehicle. In reality, you can be charged with DUI, even if your BAC was under .08. That BAC level just creates a presumption that you are intoxicated.
Accordingly, DUAC is a special category of offense when your BAC is between .08-.10. Unlike a DUI, it does not matter whether you are actually intoxicated. You can be charged with a crime simply by virtue of your BAC.
Both DUI and DUAC are serious charges. If you find yourself facing either one of them, you need legal help.
DUI Defenses for South Carolina Defendants
Your attorney will review your case to help you determine the best course of action. A plea bargain does not have to be the automatic result in every case. There may be possible defenses that you can use to fight the charges.
Here are some potential defenses in a DUI case:
- Police did not have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop in the first place
- Police did not have probable cause to arrest
- Law enforcement otherwise violated your legal rights
- The evidence being used against you is corrupted or incorrect
- The chain of custody of the chemical test is flawed
If your defenses are successful, you would be acquitted of the charges. Your lawyer will consult with you and investigate to see if there is an opening to fight the charges. Although the presumption is that you are innocent until proven guilty, DUI cases are so common that the perception may be reversed. Therefore, you need a lawyer to stand up for your legal rights.
In addition to the penalties required by law, you would be left with the effects of having a criminal record. Convictions could impact many areas of your life.
FAQs About DUI Charges in Florence, SC
Are DUI checkpoints in Florence, SC, legal?
DUI checkpoints are legal, but officers need to remain within a tight set of limits to avoid violating your Fourth Amendment rights.
Are field sobriety tests legal?
Field sobriety tests may be legal, but they are not mandatory. You do not have to get out of the car when the officer asks.
Can a breathalyzer test be wrong?
While breathalyzer machines are technologically advanced, it does not mean that the technology works perfectly. The machine can be improperly calibrated, causing erroneous test results. You need an attorney who understands the science and technology behind a Breathalyzer machine to make effective arguments.
Can I avoid jail for a South Carolina DUI?
Possibly. If you choose to plead guilty, much depends on your BAC level and the plea deal that your attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor. You have a better chance of staying out of jail when you get legal help for your DUI case.
Contact a DUI Lawyer in Florence SC
When you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI, your first call needs to be to a lawyer. There are too many things that can go wrong when you do not have an experienced DUI lawyer on your side. McCall Law provided clients with diligent and tough legal representation in a variety of criminal cases. You can schedule a free consultation by calling us at 843-279-8148 or by filling out an online contact form. Do not take any chances with your future. Reach out to us today.