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:
If you tested under 0.08 percent BAC, you are safe from prosecution. This could be the most common DUI myth—you can be charged and convicted of a DUI with a BAC less than the legal limit if the State can definitively prove your ability to drive was impaired by the alcohol you consumed.
Driving under the influence of prescription drugs is not a crime. Again, if the state can show your ability to drive was impaired by the prescription drugs you were taking, you could be charged with a DUI.
If you cooperate fully with the officer and “pass” the field sobriety tests you will be allowed to go home. Rarely true. There is a reason the Miranda warning advises you that you have the right to remain silent. The biggest obstacle many DUI attorneys must overcome is the evidence freely given to the officer by their client—then taken out of context and used against the client.
You have to be driving to be charged with DUI. Again, not necessarily true. If you were so intoxicated that you pulled off the road and decided to sleep it off for safety’s sake, you could still find yourself being charged with DUI—especially if you left the keys in the ignition. The theory behind this is that you were still in control of the vehicle even though you were sound asleep. Perhaps you could have woken up, still in your impaired state, and driven off. One court upheld a DUI conviction where the woman was asleep in her car, the car was hopelessly mired in mud, and she had two blown tires. Unfortunately, her keys were in the ignition, and the court believed she could have driven if she chose to.
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.
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.
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.