DUI charges are taken seriously in South Carolina. A conviction could have a serious effect on you professionally, financially, and personally. This is why hiring a lawyer is one of the most important steps you can take after being arrested for a drunk driving offense.
You should be sure to act quickly when finding your attorney, This will give them more time to build a strong defense for your case and help you avoid severe criminal penalties. South Carolina typically applies more severe sentences for subsequent DUIs, but even a first-time DUI charge needs to be taken seriously.
Our Columbia DUI lawyers at TF Law have the expertise and dedication you need to protect yourself following a DUI arrest. We will fight to get the best possible result for each individual case. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Penalties for DUI in Columbia, SC
You can face a number of severe consequences for a DUI conviction including costly fines, jail time, lost driving privileges, and more. Below are the criminal penalties you can face for the different types of DUI charges:
First DUI Offense
This carries the least severe penalties, but the punishment may be harsher depending on aggravating factors such as excessively high blood alcohol levels. You may be assessed a fine of up to $1000, community service and/or jail time, and a license suspension for up to 6 months.
Second DUI Offense
The consequences of a second DUI conviction can be made more severe depending on the recency of your first DUI and your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the arrest. You may face jail time of up to 3 years, between $2,100 and $6,500 in fines, a 1-year license suspension, and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.
Third DUI Offense
The penalties from a third DUI offense get even more severe and can scale higher based on the driver's BAC at the time of the arrest. You may face between 90 days and 5 years in jail, a steep fine between $5,500 and $10,000, suspension of your driver's license, and required installation of an alcohol ignition interlock device for up to 4 years.
Fourth DUI Offense
A fourth DUI conviction in 10 years is classified as a felony in South Carolina. This carries the most severe penalties including permanent revocation of your driver's license, up to 7 years incarceration time, and a lifetime requirement for an ignition interlock device if you do keep your driving privileges.
Why You Should Hire a Lawyer if Charged With a DUI
If you plan to fight your DUI charge in court, hiring a DUI lawyer is a must. You will need the advice and help from a specialist in DUI law to put together an effective defense and counter the evidence brought against you. Even if you intend to enter into a plea bargain or simply plead guilty it is in your best interest to have an attorney take a look at your case so you can make an informed decision.
Our attorneys will take the time to learn the details of your case in order to determine what your options are. Each DUI case has unique factors, and this can lead to niche laws and obscure rulings that may benefit your particular circumstances. We will also look at some of the most common areas where evidence may be disallowed including:
- Existence of reasonable suspicion for performing the initial stop
- The execution of field sobriety tests
- The use of the breathalyzer machine
- The chain of custody for any physical evidence from your arrest
- The integrity of any video footage from the stop
Drunk driving charges can be complex and tricky to navigate, even for experienced attorneys. The consequences of a conviction are too significant to take the risk that comes with not working with an attorney who specializes in DUI law. Contact an attorney with TF Law today to see what we can do for your case!
Learn More: How Long Will a DUI Stay on Your Record in SC?
How to Get Your License Back After a DUI
Regardless of the term of your license suspension, you will be required to submit a reinstatement application to get your driver's license restored. This application can be submitted to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. After this form is filed it will be compared to a set of requirements that must be met in order to reacquire your license.
You may have additional requirements to meet depending on your court ruling, but there is a certain standardized set. You will first have to pay a reinstatement fee. This is typically a $100 cost, but you may have other fines added to it which can drive the price up. If your fee is over $300, the SCDMV offers payment plans.
You are also required to submit proof that you have completed a Drug and Alcohol Safety Class for your reinstatement to be approved. Proof of a proper SR22 insurance policy will also be needed for the application process. As long as you can meet all of the criteria set and can pay your reinstatement fee, you should have no problems getting your license back following your suspension period.
Contact TF Law for Help With a DUI Charge
If you have been arrested while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will need the services of experienced Columbia criminal defense lawyers. You should take your Columbia DUI seriously, as they can carry penalties that include jail time, steep fines, loss of driving privileges, and can impact your future or even current employment opportunities.
Fight your criminal charges with one of our criminal defense attorneys at TF Law. We have the tools and experience to help you build an aggressive defense for your case, and will explore all of your legal options for your particular circumstances. Call us today or schedule an appointment online for your free case consultation!