Penalties for a First DUI in Charleston, SC

If you got pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence, you’re surely worried about what penalties you may face for a first DUI in Charleston. Getting charged can be scary and confusing.

This article will walk you through what to expect, from fines and license suspension to potential jail time and having an ignition interlock device installed. We’ll break it down in easy-to-understand steps, so you know what’s coming. We aim to educate and support you through this process since a DUI can happen to anyone. Read on to learn more about Charleston DUI penalties for first-time offenders.

Legal Consequences and Penalties for a First-Offense DUI in Charleston, SC

If you are convicted of a first offense DUI in Charleston, SC, you will face both criminal and administrative penalties. These typically include:

  • Fines – You will face a fine of at least $400. This fine amount increases based on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). For example, if your BAC is 0.10-0.15%, the fine jumps to $500-1,000. Over 0.16% BAC leads to a $1,000-5,000 fine.
  • Jail Time – You can expect a minimum of 48 hours in jail, up to 30 days. Again, higher BAC levels mean harsher sentences – like 72 hours to 30 days jail time for 0.10-0.15% BAC or 30-90 days for over 0.16%.
  • License Suspension – Your license will be suspended for six months for a first offense DUI. With strict limits, you may be eligible for a provisional license during this time.
  • Alcohol Education Program – You will likely have to complete an alcohol education program approved by the state. This involves classes and treatment at your own expense.
  • Ignition Interlock Device – After license reinstatement, you may have to pay to install this device in your vehicle for six months. It analyzes your breath and prevents driving if alcohol is detected.

The penalties aim to deter impaired driving by holding offenders accountable. Know the risks before getting behind the wheel after drinking. Consider calling an Uber or a taxi if you’ve had too much. The penalties aren’t worth endangering yourself and others.

Impact of a First DUI Conviction on the Driver’s License

A first DUI in Charleston typically leads to a six-month license suspension right away, among other penalties. This means you cannot legally drive during those six months unless you qualify for a restricted license.

even the first DUI can have severe legal consequences

To get your full driving privileges reinstated after the suspension period, you’ll need to obtain SR-22 insurance and keep it for three years. SR-22 is a type of high-risk auto insurance that costs quite a bit more than standard insurance.

Losing your license for any length of time can majorly disrupt daily life. Public transportation, rides from friends/family, bicycles, or other options may be necessary to get to work, school, childcare, and other regular destinations during that period.

How Does the State Prove DUI Charges in SC?

To convict you of a DUI in South Carolina, the state must prove three key elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while impaired. This means operating or being in a position to control a vehicle that is running or could be made to run.
  • You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent it materially and appreciably impaired your ability to drive safely. The state does not need to prove a specific blood alcohol level, only that you were noticeably impaired.
  • Your impaired state existed at the time you were driving or in control of the vehicle. Prosecutors may use observations by officers as well as chemical tests to try to prove this timing element.

An experienced Charleston DUI defense attorney can carefully analyze the prosecution’s evidence and identify any weaknesses, errors, or violations of procedures that may create reasonable doubt about your guilt. Having a strong defense is critical since a first DUI conviction carries severe penalties in South Carolina.

Contact a Charleston DUI Lawyer as Soon as Possible

Do not leave your future to chance. The stakes are high, even for first DUI offenses.

Reach out to a Charleston DUI attorney for legal representation as soon as possible after your arrest. Timing is critical, as there are key deadlines related to administrative license suspensions and requesting DMV hearings that a lawyer can advise you on.

Contact us today at (843) 277-8711 for a free case review.