DUI / DUAC
If you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC) in Spartanburg, Greenville or elsewhere in Upstate South Carolina, you could face serious consequences depending on the facts of your case. If convicted, you could:
- Lose your driver’s license (including a commercial driver’s license, or CDL)
- Face thousands of dollars in fines
- Go to jail for several years.
At Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., our criminal defense attorneys will make sure your rights are fully protected, including the right to be presumed innocent until you are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We will explore all ways to fight the charge against you or lessen the consequences you might face.
Our legal team features attorney John B. White Jr., who has tried hundreds of cases before juries over the span of his legal career, and attorney Stephen L. Denton, who has extensive trial experience handling criminal defense cases.
To meet with us right away, contact us by phone or online.
To help you understand your case, we present the following information concerning:
- Driver’s license problems after a South Carolina DUI / DUAC arrest
- Penalties for a DUI / DUAC offense in South Carolina
- How an attorney can help you to challenge a South Carolina DUI / DUAC charge.
You can also view our chart on South Carolina DUI / DUAC / Implied Consent Penalties.
Driver’s License Problems after a South Carolina DUI / DUAC Arrest
Your South Carolina driving privileges could be in immediate jeopardy under the state’s “implied consent” law if you have been charged with DUI / DUAC. This is why you should seek legal help immediately if you have been charged with these offenses.
By merely driving a vehicle in the state, you consent to a chemical test of your breath, blood or urine if you are suspected of impaired driving. Typically, the test involves a breathalyzer device.
If you refuse the test, your license could be suspended for up to 15 months. If you submit to the test and have a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .15 or above, you could lose your license for up to four months. The suspension length will depend on the prior implied consent, DUI and DUAC convictions you have been convicted of in the previous 10 years. (See our chart.)
You must act quickly. Within 30 days of your arrest, you can request a hearing with the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You can then seek a Temporary Alcohol Restricted License. This will allow you to drive until your hearing.
An attorney can represent you at this hearing. For instance, the lawyer could challenge whether you truly refused the test or contest the accuracy of the results.
Even if you lose at the DMV hearing, you can apply for a restricted license that allows you to drive to work, school, church and home and make other necessary trips.
The DMV suspension of your license is separate from your criminal case. If convicted of DUI or DUAC, you could lose your license as well, from six months to a permanent basis. An attorney can help you to seek a provisional license to restore some of your driving privileges.
Penalties for a DUI / DUAC Offense in South Carolina
A DUI in South Carolina requires proof that you drove while “materially and appreciably impaired” by alcohol, drugs or both.
However, a DUAC merely requires proof that your BAC was .08 or above. If so, your impairment is assumed. (The BAC threshold is .02 for a driver under age 21, and .04 for a CDL holder.)
DUI and DUAC carry the same possible penalties. (See our chart.) The severity of the penalties will depend on whether you have been convicted of a DUI or DUAC within the prior 10 years. Your BAC also will be a factor. The types of penalties include:
- Driver’s license suspension
- Jail and/or community service
- Fines, fees and court costs
- Vehicle confiscation
- Ignition interlock device
- Mandatory drug and alcohol education, assessment and treatment.
You may also face criminal charges that are related to your impaired driving offenses such as child endangerment, reckless driving or vehicular manslaughter. An attorney can take a comprehensive approach to your case that addresses all of your legal issues.
How an Attorney Can Help You to Challenge a South Carolina DUI / DUAC Charge
Before your case goes to municipal or magistrate court in Spartanburg, Greenville or elsewhere in Upstate South Carolina, it is important to meet with a lawyer. Your lawyer will protect your right to review the evidence being used against you.
Based on this review, the lawyer can seek a dismissal or a not guilty verdict through plea negotiations with the solicitor’s office or by going into court. For example:
- Evidence may be thrown out if the officer lacked reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop you, or if you were stopped at an illegal checkpoint.
- Evidence of your breath, blood or urine test could be suppressed if the officer failed to follow proper procedure or there were defects with the testing device.
- Other evidence could call into question whether you were truly impaired. You may be able to present eyewitness testimony concerning the amount of alcohol you drank or the way you smelled, looked, acted and drove your car.
If you are convicted of DUI or DUAC, an attorney can work to minimize the penalties, including seeking a fine or public service instead of jail time.
Sources / For More Information
• Title 56, Motor Vehicles (Chapter 5, Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways), South Carolina Legislature
• Greenville Municipal Court Online, City of Greenville
• Spartanburg Municipal Court, City of Spartanburg
• Office of 7th Circuit Solicitor, Spartanburg County Government
• Office of the 13th Circuit Solicitor, Greenville County Government