If you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC) in Spartanburg, Greenville or elsewhere in Upstate South Carolina, you could face serious consequences depending on the facts of your case. If convicted, you could:
- Lose your driver’s license (including a commercial driver’s license, or CDL)
- Face thousands of dollars in fines
- Go to jail for several years.
Driver’s License Problems after a South Carolina DUI / DUAC Arrest
Your South Carolina driving privileges could be in immediate jeopardy under the state’s “implied consent” law if you have been charged with DUI / DUAC. This is why you should seek legal help immediately if you have been charged with these offenses.
By merely driving a vehicle in the state, you consent to a chemical test of your breath, blood or urine if you are suspected of impaired driving. Typically, the test involves a breathalyzer device.
If you refuse the test, your license could be suspended for up to 15 months. If you submit to the test and have a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .15 or above, you could lose your license for up to four months. The suspension length will depend on the prior implied consent, DUI and DUAC convictions you have been convicted of in the previous 10 years. (See our chart.)
You must act quickly. Within 30 days of your arrest, you can request a hearing with the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You can then seek a Temporary Alcohol Restricted License. This will allow you to drive until your hearing.
An attorney can represent you at this hearing. For instance, the lawyer could challenge whether you truly refused the test or contest the accuracy of the results.
Even if you lose at the DMV hearing, you can apply for a restricted license that allows you to drive to work, school, church and home and make other necessary trips.
The DMV suspension of your license is separate from your criminal case. If convicted of DUI or DUAC, you could lose your license as well, from six months to a permanent basis. An attorney can help you to seek a provisional license to restore some of your driving privileges.
Penalties for a DUI / DUAC Offense in South Carolina
A DUI in South Carolina requires proof that you drove while “materially and appreciably impaired” by alcohol, drugs or both.
However, a DUAC merely requires proof that your BAC was .08 or above. If so, your impairment is assumed. (The BAC threshold is .02 for a driver under age 21, and .04 for a CDL holder.)
DUI and DUAC carry the same possible penalties. The severity of the penalties will depend on whether you have been convicted of a DUI or DUAC within the prior 10 years. Your BAC also will be a factor. The types of penalties include:
- Driver’s license suspension
- Jail and/or community service
- Fines, fees and court costs
- Vehicle confiscation
- Ignition interlock device
- Mandatory drug and alcohol education, assessment and treatment.
You may also face criminal charges that are related to your impaired driving offenses such as child endangerment, reckless driving or vehicular manslaughter. An attorney can take a comprehensive approach to your case that addresses all of your legal issues.