DUI in South Carolina: Frequently Asked Questions
Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) can be a very intimidating experience. Oftentimes, those who are charged with DUI are good people with families and careers who made a simple mistake. A conviction for DUI, however, can have a significant impact on a person’s life. The following article answers some common questions that an individual may have after being charged with DUI.
Can I Still Drive Before My Trial?
If you have been charged with DUI, your license has likely been suspended for six months. In addition, if you refused a breathalyzer or blood test, your license has been suspended for six months. During this time, however, there are a few ways in which you can legally drive a vehicle.
If your license has been suspended, you can challenge the suspension and request an administrative hearing. In the meantime, you may apply for a temporary alcohol license, which will allow you to drive between the time of the arrest and the date of the hearing. This type of license does not come with any restrictions other than having to remain in the state, and a request is usually received within a week.
After your license has been suspended, you may also apply for a route-restricted license. This type of license will allow you to drive to school or work by following a specific route, but does not allow you to drive anywhere else.
It is important to note that while you await these licenses, your original driver’s license remains suspended. This means that you can not legally drive until a temporary or route-restricted license is issued. Doing so will negatively impact your DUI case if you are pulled over.
Can my DUI Arrest or Conviction Be Expunged?
If you have been charged with a DUI, you may wish to have your arrest expunged, meaning that all evidence of the arrest be permanently removed from your record.
A DUI arrest may be expunged from your record if you were found not guilty at trial. An expungement can also occur if your DUI charges have been dropped.
Unlike many other misdemeanor convictions, if you have been arrested and convicted (found guilty) of DUI, the arrest and conviction can not be expunged from your record. This means that if you plead guilty (or do not and are still convicted at trial), the conviction will remain on your criminal record permanently, as well as on your driving record for ten years.
What is the Penalty for a DUI Conviction?
Penalties for DUI depend on whether this is your first offense, and whether you caused injury or death while driving under the influence.
For a first-time offense, you can face:
- Fines from $400 to $1,000
- Jail time from 2 to 90 days
- Driver’s license suspension for six months
If your driving under the influence caused an accident which resulted in great bodily harm or death, however, you can face:
- Fines from $5,100 and $25,100
- Incarceration between 30 days and 25 years
- License suspension from three to five years
Should I Hire a Lawyer to Handle My Case?
While you may represent yourself during a DUI trial, an attorney is very beneficial. DUI law can be complicated, and the consequences of a conviction can be very serious—especially if this is not your first DUI. It is advisable to hire an attorney who is familiar with South Carolina DUI laws and knows how to defend you during your case, including challenging police investigations and performing negotiations to attempt to reduce your penalties.
Arrested for DUI? We’re Here to Help—Contact Us Today!
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Lovely Law Firm are happy to assist you with your case. We will work tirelessly to keep you out of jail and free of a criminal record. To schedule a case evaluation free of charge, please call 843-839-4111.