If you have been arrested for a Charleston DUI, chances are you were shocked, embarrassed, overwhelmed, anxiety-ridden and totally stressed out. The consequences of a Charleston DUI conviction are both severe and far-reaching. They can affect your personal relationships, your career opportunities, and may even affect your divorce or child custody hearings. Even one DUI can have far reaching negative consequences that can last a lifetime.
Many people make the decision to simply plead guilty—particularly if this is their first DUI arrest—because they believe it will make the entire thing go away more quickly. Unfortunately, this is simply NOT TRUE. When you plead guilty to DUI charges, you have set in motion consequences which cannot be reversed. Some of these consequences include:
- Time spent behind bars;
- Extremely high fines and fees;
- The loss of your driver’s license for a specific amount of time;
- Potentially having an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle;
- The potential loss of your job, or an inability to find employment;
- Insurance premiums which become so high as to be unaffordable in some cases;
- An inability to secure a government college loan or to join the military, and
- A permanent blot on your criminal record.
It is virtually always a better idea to fight your DUI charges. In some cases, you may find your DUI charges dismissed completely because of lack of evidence or police mistakes. At the very least, your Charleston DUI defense attorney may be able to have your charges reduced or to get you into a diversionary program as an alternative to jail. Remember these two important facts:
The most important thing you can do to lessen the negative consequences of your DUI charges is to speak to an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Remember, the prosecution is required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state is unable to prove an element of your DUI offense, or if the police officer improperly conducted your stop, your field sobriety tests, or your chemical tests, then it could be difficult to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
A failed field sobriety test or chemical test does not automatically mean you cannot win your DUI case.
The state of South Carolina has fairly harsh DUI costs and penalties, as well as strict DUI laws. As such, it is advisable never to plead guilty to DUI charges before you have consulted a skilled Charleston DUI defense attorney who can thoroughly examine the details of your DUI arrest. You may have some preconceived notions regarding your DUI charges which can harm you in the long run. Some of the most common “myths” about DUI include:
Penalties for a First-Time DUI in the State of South Carolina
Anyone convicted of a DUI in South Carolina, whether it is a first offense or subsequent conviction, faces some amount of jail time. First offenders have a minimum sentence of 48 hours up to a maximum of 90 days in jail. The penalty for a second offense ranges from a minimum of five days to three years. Third and subsequent offenses carry jail terms ranging from 60 days to five years. As you can see, penalties for DUI in South Carolina are quite harsh – another reason it is highly recommended to consult with a DUI lawyer in Charleston as soon as possible.
In addition to jail time, those convicted of DUI face fines which increase in severity for multiple offenses. First-time offenders will pay a fine of $400 – $1000, while the maximum fine for third and subsequent offenses is $10,000. DUI convictions in South Carolina also come with the possibility of license suspension from 6 months to two years or a permanent forfeiture after the fourth offense. Your DUI lawyer in Charleston can help you to reduce these fines and jail times.
For a first offender who tests above the legal limit, but blows below a critical value of 0.15, you may be able to serve your time, pay your fine, and go about your life. However, those who are second offenders or those who blow 0.15 or higher on a breathalyzer will need to install a mandatory ignition interlock device for a period of no less than six months. This is a relatively recent addition to South Carolina DUI law, known as Emma’s Law, after Emma Longstreet, a six-year-old girl, was killed by a drunk driver.
If you refuse a chemical test in the state of South Carolina, you will face an automatic six month license suspension.
When you have been arrested for a DUI, the long-term effects of a potential conviction may not be your first priority, however it is important to consider these consequences carefully. When you call an experienced Charleston, South Carolina DUI attorney, you have a vastly increased chance of minimizing those consequences, and being able to move on with your life. Your DUI attorney has the experience, knowledge and skill to level the playing field on your behalf, fighting to help you overcome your DUI charges.
If you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with DUI in Charleston or anywhere in the State of South Carolina, it important to discuss your case with an experienced Charleston DUI defense lawyer immediately.
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