After a DUI conviction, you can be left with many questions. A common one being, 'How long does a DUI stay on my record?' There may be severe penalties such jail time you must serve, as well as fines and penalties to pay. Dealing with license suspension can be an entire event all in its own, especially when in comes to having a Breathalyzer installed into your car or not being able to drive at all.
The last thing on most peoples minds during their time in court is what comes after your conviction. For those dealing with the aftermath of their first DUI conviction and administrative penalties in South Carolina, they might not even realize that their DUI conviction comes with additional penalties, or punishments, that can affect you and your driving record for years. It can be a jarring experience when you realize the hidden extra penalties that accompany a DUI.
At TF Law, we're here for you every step of the way. From your first night in jail after your arrest to dealing with the aftermath of your criminal offense, our goal is always to do everything we can to help our clients get to a happy and quick resolution. Contact our skilled defense attorneys today.
How long does my DUI stay on my record?
In South Carolina, DUI convictions cannot be expunged. This means that after a DUI conviction, your conviction will stay on your criminal record forever. However, that doesn't always mean that your criminal record will affect you for forever. After a 10-year time period, without a subsequent offense or DUI conviction or charge, your criminal conviction will no longer appear on your driving record. This means your driving privileges should return to normal at the 10 year mark, and you will once again have a clean driving record.
Because your DUI cannot be expunged, it will normally show up on a criminal background check for the rest of your life. This can affect your ability to rent an apartment or get a new job, since many landlords and employers see DUI convictions as unwanted baggage that can affect them if you get an additional conviction. There are options, however, to try and make your drunk driving offense invisible to all those outside of law enforcement.
How long will my DUI conviction affect my insurance rates?
In South Carolina the time frame in which additional DUI convictions will be considered additional, and not first-time, is ten years. This means if you have a DUI conviction in 2010 and you receive another DUI conviction in 2005, the 2005 DUI charge is considered a 2nd DUI. However, if you receive your first DUI in 2010 and have a second DUI charge in 2021, the 2021 charge is considered a first-offense through the DMV and insurance companies.
Many insurance companies consider persons with DUI convictions to be high-risk drivers, and they show that in their premiums. Auto insurance premiums for drivers who have been convicted for impaired driving normally rise at least $1000 a year, or just under $100 a month. If you have more than one subsequent DUI conviction, you may not be able to find an insurance provider at all, or may have to purchase SR-22 insurance, which is specialized insurance specifically for those convicted of drunk driving. SR-22 requirements can be tricky to understand.
Learn More: What to do after a DUI in Greenville
Around the ten year mark, also, you should be able to petition your insurance company and speak to your insurance agent to lower your insurance premiums and return to regular insurance, rather than
What happens if I move?
You may believe that moving to another state will help clear up your driving record, however South Carolina is a member of the Interstate Driver's License Compact. This means that if you move to another state, and go to their DMV to change your residency and obtain a new driver's license from that state, your DUI conviction will follow you from the SCDMV.
Moving to another state can also cause additional problems with your insurance and your criminal record, depending on the laws of the new state you move to. If you were to move to California, for example, they also have a 10 year limit on affecting your driving record, whereas moving to a state such as Florida or Illinois can cause problems. Florida keeps DUI convictions on residents records for 75 years, vs the 10 in South Carolina, and DUI convictions in Illinois will stay on your record for life. If you move to a state with stricter DUI laws, or longer license suspension periods, you may find yourself unable to drive for a period of time, even if your conviction was your 1st offense.
Are there any options to get rid of my DUI conviction?
Depending on the facts and evidence of your case, and the prosecutor of your case, it may be possible to have your DUI charges lowered to a reckless driving charge. While reckless driving is still a criminal charge, and you will most likely still lose your license for a time, as long as the charge is your first reckless driving charge, you may be able to have your record sealed after 3 years.
You may also be able to have your DUI conviction sealed after a three-year period. This means that your charges would no longer show up on background checks, your driving record, or your public record. If you would like to explore your options with trying to get your charges lowered, contact your defense attorney as soon as possible.
Only first-time misdemeanor offenses are eligible for being sealed in South Carolina, so this requires that your blood alcohol level at the time of your arrest be under a certain amount and your conviction be a misdemeanor. If you arrest was for a subsequent offense, or was considered a felony DUI, you will not be able to have your record sealed.
Learn More: Underage DUI in South Carolina
Depending on your case, you may also be eligible to appeal your DUI conviction and have it overturned. While rare, appeals can lead to having your conviction overturned and your criminal and arrest records wiped clean. This normally happens when there is an issue with your breath sample or the breath test machine used to field test your blood alcohol content. These machines are only about 50% accurate, and false refusals and false positives do happen. With enough evidence, an experienced DUI attorney may be able to have your charges overturned, leading to no penalties for you and a perfectly clean record for your future.
This isn't the end of the road
A DUI conviction might seem like a life sentence, but there may be options available to you to get your life back on track and get back on the road without extra penalties. If you're interested in your options, and need help looking into them, contact Touma & Fedalei today for an initial, confidential consultation. As experienced DUI and criminal defense attorneys, we're here to help you in every way we can. From walking you through your options and rights, to helping you seal your record and deal with DUI insurance and your administrative record, we have the know-how and experience to help get you to the best possible outcome for your case.