If you got a DUI in Charleston during spring break, you are not alone. Local police step up their enforcement efforts during spring break week, and each year multiple students find themselves going home with DUIs.
Even if you were just trying to have fun on spring break, facing a DUI charge is a very serious matter. South Carolina law imposes steep penalties for DUIs, and a conviction could have consequences for your academic career and your future job prospects as well. As a result, you need to be very careful as you move forward, and you will want to be making informed decisions based on the advice of an experienced DUI defense lawyer.
10 Important Facts to Know After Getting a DUI on Spring Break in Charleston
Did you get arrested for drunk driving over spring break in Charleston? If so, here are 10 important facts you need to know about facing a DUI in South Carolina:
1. South Carolina DUIs Carry Steep Penalties
Even if this is your first time facing a DUI charge, you are facing steep penalties. For a standard first-time DUI involving a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 to 0.10 percent (if you are over 21), a conviction could result in:
- Close to $1,000 in fines and assessments
- Six-month driver’s license suspension
- 48 hours to 30 days of jail time or community service
If your BAC was above 0.10 percent, if you caused an accident, if you had minors in your vehicle, or if your case involves any of a variety of other aggravating factors, you could be facing even greater consequences.
2. A DUI Conviction Can Impact Your Academics and Your Future Career
Along with fines, loss of your driving privileges, and possible jail time or community service, your DUI could also lead to disciplinary action at school. Also, with a DUI conviction on your record, you could find it much more difficult to get an internship or find a job after you graduate. Having a DUI could also limit your options for getting into law school, graduate school, or medical school.
3. Prosecutors Don’t Need Proof of a High BAC to Secure a Conviction
One of the most common misconceptions people have about DUI cases is that they can avoid a conviction if they can keep their BAC out of court. But, in South Carolina, this is not the case.
Regardless of your BAC, prosecutors can win a conviction if they can prove that you were under the influence of alcohol to the extent that your faculties were “materially and appreciably impaired.” The arresting officer’s testimony, the patrol car’s dash camera footage, your field sobriety test (FST) results, and various other forms of evidence can all be used to prove impairment in South Carolina state court.
4. But, Proof of a High BAC Can Also Be Enough on Its Own
While prosecutors don’t need your BAC, if you blew above the legal limit (and your BAC reading is admissible in court), this could be all that prosecutors need to convict you. At 0.08 percent or above, your BAC creates an inference that you were materially and appreciably impaired.
Additionally, along with DUI charges, in drunk driving cases prosecutors will also frequently pursue charges for driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC). Under South Carolina’s DUAC law, you can be found guilty if you are caught driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or above regardless of your level of impairment.
5. The Judge Won’t Go Easy On You Because It was Spring Break
The judge won’t go easy on you because you were on spring break when you got arrested. Driving under the influence endangers the public; and, for this reason, judges always take DUI cases seriously. The judge will treat your case just like any other; and, if you don’t do what is necessary to protect yourself, you will face the consequences.
6. If You Don’t Show Up in Court, You Will Get Convicted
Even if you don’t go to school in the Charleston area, you need to be prepared to show up in court. If you don’t, the judge will almost certainly convict you in your absence, and the judge might also charge you with failure to appear.
7. Hiring a DUI Defense Lawyer is Your Least Expensive Option
While many people have concerns about the costs of hiring a DUI defense lawyer, the reality is that hiring a lawyer is your least expensive option. The nearly $1,000 in fines and assessments you will pay if you get convicted will be just the start of the costs of your DUI. Your insurance rates will go up for several years; you will have to pay a reinstatement fee to get your driver’s license back; and, if your DUI interferes with pursuing your career, the costs of your DUI could truly last the rest of your life.
8. Hiring a DUI Defense Lawyer Doesn’t Cost as Much as You Might Think
Plus, hiring a DUI defense lawyer doesn’t cost as much as most people think. If you shop around, you will be able to find an experienced lawyer who offers reasonable rates.
9. There Are Several Potential Defenses to Drunk Driving Charges in South Carolina
When you hire a lawyer for your South Carolina DUI case, your lawyer will carefully evaluate all possible options for helping you avoid a serious conviction. There are several potential defenses to drunk driving charges in South Carolina—but choosing the right ones and asserting them effectively requires experienced legal representation.
10. You Should Not Try to Handle Your Situation on Your Own
Given everything we’ve discussed, if you got a DUI on spring break in Charleston, you should not try to handle your situation on your own. Hiring an experienced DUI defense lawyer is your best and most cost-effective option, and you owe it to your future self to fight your charge by all means available.
Schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation with a DUI Defense Lawyer
If you got a DUI (or DUAC) on spring break in Charleston, we strongly encourage you to contact us for more information. To arrange a free and confidential consultation with DUI defense lawyer Rad S. Deaton, call 843-225-5723 or request an appointment online now.