Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol in Greenville, South Carolina is a serious offense. Although a DUI is a misdemeanor, it can quickly be elevated to a felony charge with far more severe penalties. Even if you are only charged with a misdemeanor, you could face fines, jail time, license suspension, and more which all have lifelong consequences.
It is crucial to defend yourself against a DUI charge, whether this is your first offense and the charges are minor. Many different types of defenses can be used to either have the charges dismissed or the sentencing reduced. However, to get the best defense, you need an experienced Greenville DUI defense lawyer.
Contact Hernandez & Cabra, today if you have been arrested and charged with a DUI to find out what options for criminal defense are available to you.
What is the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) Limit in South Carolina?
The laws in South Carolina regarding the legal BAC limits differ slightly from other states. The law states that it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol to the degree that your driving ability is impaired. The measurable number that has been placed on this is 0.08%. This means that it is illegal to drive with BAC that is 0.08% or higher.
However, because the law is reliant on impairment, other factors can play a role in whether or not you are charged with a DUI such as a road sobriety test. If your BAC is less than 0.08% but over 0.05% and a law enforcement officer determines that your driving ability is impaired, then you can still be arrested and charged with a DUI.
Another aspect of the law that affects BAC is the DUAC or Driving With An Unlawful Alcohol Concentration. This law states that you may not operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or above regardless of whether your ability to drive is impaired or not. This means that there is no need to prove that you were impaired when you were pulled over to charge you with a DUI but only that your BAC was over 0.08%.
The laws regarding DUI and BAC can be very confusing. If you are unsure about how this affects you and which part of the law applies to your case, give Hernandez & Cabra a call for assistance.
Can I Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer Test in South Carolina?
South Carolina has an implied consent law. This means that when you get your driver’s license, you are implicitly agreeing to take a test in the future to test your BAC without your explicit consent being required. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t refuse to take a Breathalyzer test. But if you do refuse, you face immediate license suspension and it isn’t going to help your defense when you go to court.
What Penalties Can I Face for a DUI in South Carolina?
The penalties that you face if you are convicted of a DUI in South Carolina depend largely on whether this is your first offense or if you are a repeat offender. It also depends on your BAC and how far your tests showed you were above the legal limit.
Penalties for a first offense are as follow:
- BAC of 0.08% to 0.10% – Misdemeanor, up to 30 days in jail, a $400 fine, and 6-month license revocation.
- BAC of 0.10% to 0.16% – Misdemeanor, 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, and 6-month license revocation.
- BAC above 0.16% – Misdemeanor, 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, and 6-month license revocation.
Penalties for a second offense are as follows:
- BAC of 0.08% to 0.10% – Misdemeanor, up to 1 year in jail, a $5,100 fine, license revocation up to 1 year.
- BAC of 0.10% to 0.16% – Misdemeanor, 2 years in jail, a $5,500 fine, license revocation up to 1 year.
- BAC over 0.16% – Misdemeanor, 3 years in jail, a $6,500 fine, and license revocation up to 1 year.
Penalties for a third offense are as follows:
- BAC of 0.08% to 0.10% – Misdemeanor, 3 years in jail, a $6,300 fine, and 2 to 4-year license revocation.
- BAC of 0.10% to 0.16% – Misdemeanor, 4 years in jail, a $7,500 fine, and 2 to 4-year license revocation.
- BAC over 0.16% – Misdemeanor, 5 years in jail, a $10,000 fine, and 2 to 4-year license revocation.
Penalties for a fourth or more repeat offense:
- BAC of 0.08% to 0.10% – Felony, up to 5 years in prison, and permanent revocation of driver’s license.
- BAC of 0.10% to 0.16% – Felony, 6 years in jail, and permanent revocation of driver’s license.
- BAC over 0.16% – Felony, 7 years in jail, and permanent revocation of driver’s license.
It is important to note that a good defense can help you avoid the maximum penalties. For example, Hernandez & Cabra can help you avoid jail time for a first offense or reduce the amount of time you spend in jail for a repeat offense. If you require your car for work or other essential duties, your lawyer will also help you get the license suspension lifted.
What is a Felony DUI in South Carolina?
You can be charged with a felony DUI in South Carolina if you have been convicted of a DUI more than 3 times. This results in more time in prison and permanent license revocation. You can also be charged with a felony DUI if you caused harm or injury or a fatality to another person/s as a result of impaired driving caused by a BAC higher than 0.08% (or lower in some cases).
If you have been charged with a felony DUI, it is imperative to seek legal advice as soon as possible and hire an attorney to defend you.
What Are Common DUI Defenses?
There are several different defenses that an experienced attorney will use to either get the charges against you dropped or the sentence reduced including:
- No probable cause for a traffic stop.
- The law enforcement officer didn’t follow the correct arresting procedure. For example, they didn’t read you your rights.
- The tests (chemical or Breathalyzer) can be challenged as to accuracy. These tests are fallible and are not always correct.
- Improper booking and/or interrogation procedures and techniques.
- The tests were not stored or handled properly.
- Violations of rules of evidence and procedure.
When you are pulled over under the suspicion of a DUI, it is important not to say anything that may further implicate you. Only answer basic questions from the law enforcement officer. You don’t have to tell them how much you had to drink or if you had anything to drink at all. Simply inform them politely that you would prefer not to answer any questions without your Greenville DUI defense lawyer present.
The same applies to when you are being booked for the DUI. Don’t complete a statement or answer any questions until your lawyer arrives. This is probably the best way that you can help your defense.
How Can a Greenville, South Carolina Lawyer Help My DUI Case?
Every citizen of the United States has the right to good legal representation no matter whether they are guilty or innocent. The same applies to a DUI charge. An experienced DUI attorney knows that there may be grounds to get the charges against you dismissed whether you are guilty or not. They will do their utmost to ensure that you receive the minimum sentence possible relative to the charges brought against you if you are found guilty.
If you don’t have a lawyer, it is more than likely that you will face the maximum penalty that could’ve been avoided altogether with a proper defense.
Don’t underestimate the seriousness of a DUI charge. Even if this is your first time being pulled over and arrested, it can have severe long-reaching consequences. For instance, you will have an arrest and criminal record for the rest of your life. This can make it difficult to get a job, rent a place to live, or even get credit or a loan in the future.
Plus, if you face felony DUI charges, you are looking at prison time for up to 7 years or longer if another person was harmed or killed as a result of your impaired driving while under the influence of alcohol. While the laws can be confusing regarding DUI’s, BAC, and the penalties that you face, South Carolina takes DUI offenses seriously and aims to prevent drunk driving and repeat offenses.
Call Our Greenville DUI Defense Lawyers Today!
Whether this is your first offense, you have been charged with a misdemeanor or you face the more severe charge of a felony DUI, you need a lawyer to help you defend against the charges. Give Hernandez & Cabra a call today to schedule a consultation and find out what the best defense is for your unique case.