In South Carolina, DUI means that a person is driving within the state while their faculties (their physical or mental abilities) are materially and appreciably impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, whether legally obtained or controlled substances. It does not mean that a person has merely driven a vehicle after having had something to drink. The key word is “impaired”. There is a legal inference that a person is impaired if their breath or blood alcohol content is .08 or higher.
A typical DUI arrest begins with a traffic stop for some alleged driving or equipment violation, or an accident. After making initial contact with you and checking your license, registration and insurance, the police officer will usually request that the you submit to a battery of three standardized field sobriety exercises. Although there is no legal requirement to perform these exercises, most people submit to them. In South Carolina, state law requires that your performance of these exercises be videotaped. Based on the officer’s interpretation of your performance on these exercises, he will make an arrest decision. If you are arrested, the officer will transport you to a breath testing site. Your conduct in the patrol car will also be videotaped. Once at the breath testing site, the officer should inform you that your conduct is being videotaped. The officer will then prepare the Datamaster DMT machine to take a breath sample. You should be observed for twenty minutes before the test is administered. The officer should also read you your Implied Consent Rights during this time. After completing the twenty minute observation period, and after the Datamaster DMT runs its self checks, the officer will offer you the opportunity to provide a breath sample. You have two minutes to do so. However, you have a legal right to refuse to provide a breath sample. If you refuse to provide a breath sample, or you provide a breath sample of .15 or greater, your license or privilege to drive in South Carolina is subject to an immediate administrative suspension (See section on Administrative Suspensions and Hearings).
If the police officer suspects that you are also under the influence of drugs, he may also request a urine sample. In specific situations where you cannot provide an acceptable breath sample, the police officer may request that a blood sample be drawn for testing. This is most common in cases involving a traffic accident when you have been taken to a hospital for treatment.
There are many possible defenses to a DUI charge, and this is why hiring an experienced, Myrtle Beach DUI attorney like Mr. Sutton is critical to the outcome of your case.
The penalty for a DUI (or a DUAC) conviction is based upon your breath or blood alcohol content reading.
|Refusal (DUI only) and .08 – .09||48 hours to 30 days in jail or fine*|
|.10 – .15||72 hours to 30 days in jail or fine*|
|.16 and above||30 to 90 days in jail or fine*|
* Fines are usually at least $1000, and can range much higher. Fines are subject to annual revision by the legislature, so specific fine amounts are not listed here.
|Refusal and .08 – .09||5 day minimum – 1 year and fine*|
|.10 – .15||30 days – 2 years and fine*|
|.16 and above||90 days – 3 years and fine*|
* Fines are usually at least $2000, and can range significantly higher. Fines are subject to annual revision by the legislature, so specific fine amounts are not listed here.
A DUAC differs from a DUI in that it does not require proof of impairment. The prosecution must show that a person was driving a motor vehicle within the state and had an alcohol concentration of .08 or more. Therefore, a person who refuses to provide a breath or blood sample cannot be charged with DUAC. The law sets forth a number of factors that you have a right to challenge if charged with DUAC. In actual effect, a DUAC trial is not very different from a DUI trial. The penalties for a DUAC conviction are identical to the penalties for a DUI conviction. It is not true that there is some benefit to you to pleading guilty to a DUAC rather than a DUI.
If you refuse to provide a breath or blood alcohol sample, or if you provide a sample and it is .15 blood alcohol content or higher, the State of South Carolina will immediately suspend your license, or if you are a non-resident, your privilege to drive in South Carolina. In order to drive again, time is of the essence. You only have 30 days from the date of your arrest to request an Administrative Hearing to challenge your suspension. By requesting an administrative suspension, you are also making application for a Temporary Alcohol License which will allow you to drive again pending the outcome of your hearing. Mr. Sutton will discuss this procedure with you at your free initial consultation in order to get you back on the road and driving as soon as possible. As part of his representation, Mr. Sutton will appear on your behalf at the administrative hearing so that you will not need to be present.
If your administrative suspension is upheld at the hearing , you will need to enroll in and complete an approved Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program class and be subject to the following period of suspension in South Carolina:
|Refusal 1st||6 months||.15 or above 1st||30 days|
|Refusal 2nd||9 months||.15 or above 2nd||60 days|
|Refusal 3rd||12 months||.15 or above 3rd||90 days|
You cannot escape the consequences of being arrested for a DUI or DUAC in South Carolina simply because you are from another state. Administrative suspensions or a conviction for a DUI or DUAC will be reported back to your licensing state, which will then take action against your license. It is critical that non-residents call us as soon as possible after their arrest. Keep in mind that failure to request an Administrative Hearing within 30 days of your arrest for DUI or DUAC could, in some states, subject you to up to a one year suspension of your driver’s license.
Installation of an ignition interlock device is required for persons convicted a DUI 1st Refusal, DUI 1st with an alcohol content .15 or above, and DUI 2nd or more. It may also be required for some persons whose administrative suspension is upheld. The requirements are very detailed and fact specific. Please discuss this with us at your free initial consultation.