Driving under the influence carries some serious punishments in South Carolina. It’s important you know what to do if you face DUI charges if you want to give yourself your best chance at beating the charges.
What Constitutes Driving Under the Influence In South Carolina?
The DUI laws in South Carolina are based on a subjective standard. A driver is considered to be “under the influence” if their “ability to drive is materially and appreciably impaired.”
If a police officer observes what they determine to be impaired driving, they have the right to pull you over on suspicion of driving under the influence.
They can then investigate further to determine if you are chemically impaired. You can refuse a breathalyzer test as will be explained below.
If you do submit one, however, the tolerances are:
- A Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) reading that is at least 0.08% is deemed as being under the influence for drivers over the age of 21.
- A Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) reading that is 0.02% or over is deemed as being under the influence for drivers under the age of 21.
Penalties if You’re Convicted of a DUI in South Carolina
If you’re charged and found guilty of a DUI, you face some serious punishments as laid out in Section 56-5-2930 of the South Carolina Code of laws.
The severity is based on your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) as follows:
- If BAC under 0.10% – Up to 30 days in jail, a $400 fine, and a 6-month license suspension.
- BAC 0.10-0.16% – Up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, and a 6-month license suspension.
- BAC above 0.16% – Up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, and a 6-month license suspension.
- If BAC under 0.10% – Up to 1 year in jail, a $5,100 fine, and 1-year license suspension.
- BAC 0.10-0.16% – Up to 2 years in jail, a $5,500 fine, and 1-year license suspension.
- BAC above 0.16% – Up to 3 years in jail, a $6,500 fine, and 1-year license suspension.
- If BAC under 0.10% – Up to 3 years in jail, a $6,300 fine, and 2 to 4-year license suspension.
- BAC 0.10-0.16% – Up to 4 years in jail, a $7,500 fine, and 2 to 4-year license suspension.
- BAC above 0.16% – Up to 5 years in jail, a $10,000 fine, and 2 to 4-year license suspension.
Fourth and Subsequent Offenses
If you are facing conviction for a fourth or subsequent DUI, you’ll likely receive a felony charge. You can permanently lose your license and face up to 7 years in jail depending on your individual circumstances.
Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
Under South Carolina law, if you drive a motor vehicle you are considered to have given consent to a chemical test if you’re arrested under suspicion of a DUI.
You can still exercise your right to refuse a breathalyzer test. However, doing so will result in receiving a 6-month license suspension.
If it’s the second time you’re refusing, you’ll receive a 9 month suspension. Ultimately, for a third time refusing, you’ll receive a 12 suspension.
You may also receive an order by a judge to complete an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. This can come at a cost of anywhere between $500-$2,500 and take up to 12 months to complete.
Advice From Shaun Kent – 2 Things You Can Do When Pulled Over on Suspicion of a DUI
If you watch the following Instagram video, Shuan Kent explains exactly what you should do if you’re pulled over for a DUI:
For those who can’t watch or hear the audio, Shaun shared two tips to help minimize the penalties if you’ve been drinking:
1. Eat Peanuts
When an officer pulls someone over, one of the things they’re paying attention to is the smell of alcohol. If they smell alcohol, they are much more likely to determine you’re driving while under the influence.
Despite whatever rumors or tricks you may hear, Shaun says there is only one thing that really masks the smell of alcohol on your breath; peanuts.
If you’ve had a drink, it’s better for you that the office makes a note that he smells peanuts on your breath, not alcohol.
2. Don’t Say Anything
Not saying anything to a police officer while under arrest is always great advice. In addition, it’s even more important when an officer pulls you over under suspicion of a DUI.
Not only may you say something you will later regret. You may also slur your words if under the influence, giving the officer reason to arrest you.
Keep in mind, DUI is a subjective standard. Moreover, it’s up to the arresting officer to make the determination as to why he arrested you. They will be looking for signs and reasons to arrest you.
You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do a field sobriety test. Exercise your constitutional right to remain silent and call the office of Shaun Kent at your earliest convenience for advice on what to do next.
As mentioned earlier, refusing to take a breathalyzer will result in an automatic 6-month suspended license. If you’ve been drinking, as you can see from the punishments above, this may be a better option.
This doesn’t mean your life has to be turned upside down. A good lawyer will be able to secure you a temporary alcohol-restricted license for those 6 months. This will enable you to drive to your place of work and make other essential journeys.
How We Can Help
Have you or a loved one been charged with a DUI in the state of South Carolina?
At Kent Law Firm, we have experience representing clients facing DUI charges. We understand how the legal process works in South Carolina and can advise you of the best course of action to help you beat your charges.
Call us today on 803-433-5368 or contact us via this form and we’ll arrange a time to discuss your case.