Drinking alcohol can be a fun and social activity, but once you get behind the wheel of a vehicle with it in your system, you will be putting yourself and others in a lot of danger. In every state, it is against the law to operate any type of vehicle while your mind and body are impaired by the effects of alcohol or other drugs — even prescription medication. Receiving a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) can be quite overwhelming and complicated. However, hope is not unreachable in every situation because being arrested does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted. Below is some information on what you will need to know about DUIs and a DUI attorney.
What is a DUI in South Carolina?
Staring with the basics, Merriam-Webster simply defines a DUI as “the act or crime of driving a vehicle while affected by alcohol or drugs.” It is commonly referred to as “drunk driving” and refers to operating a motor vehicle while your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above your state’s legal limit — which is the level at which a person is unable to drive safely. The limit is usually around .08%. Even if you felt sober enough to drive or you only had a short distance to travel before making it home, your BAC is what ultimately determines whether or not you are legally allowed to be operating a vehicle on the road.
If a police officer notices you driving erratically or recklessly, he or she may believe that you are under the influence and can pull you over to administer a Breathalyzer test. If you refuse the test, there could be major consequences such as jail time or having your license suspended. An officer can also arrest you for driving under the influence without administering the Breathalyzer. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, an officer can arrest you if he or she sees that you have empty alcohol bottles on your floorboard, if there is a strong odor of alcohol or other substances coming from inside your car, or if you are slurring your speech and making questionable movements.
What to do After Being Arrested for or Charged with a DUI in South Carolina
Drunk or impaired driving is regarded as an extremely serious offense by courts because of how dangerous and deadly it is to other drivers. If you have been arrested on the suspicion of drunk driving or you have been charged with a DUI, the first thing you need to do is contact a lawyer. For this type of conviction, the court process can be lengthy and complicated, especially if you are a repeat offender trying to claim that there are mitigating circumstances. A DUI attorney can help you through several court hearings and manage necessary paperwork, especially if you are planning on pleading not guilty. Remain calm and respectful, answering all questions truthfully — both when you are being arrested and when you are in court — to avoid any extra consequences. Hiring a DUI attorney will ensure that you get the fairest treatment possible from the legal system and even if he or she is unable to dismiss the case entirely, he or she may be able to reduce the sentence. Your DUI attorney will have all the knowledge necessary to help you sift through the legal aspects of your case and inform you as to what you can expect.
How a DUI Conviction Affects Your Life
Being charged with a DUI is a life-changing and overwhelming experience, affecting not only you but your loved ones as well. Even for a first-time conviction, you will lose all driving privileges for a period of time and you will also not be able to have a hardship license to get to work. If you have children, you will definitely not be able to take them to school anymore. If you are sentenced, part of it will include paying a fine — which your state has set maximum and minimum limits for. If the property was damaged, children were endangered, or someone else was hurt, your fine will be increased. If you have been arrested and sentenced for a DUI, you will also most likely be facing jail time, depending on the circumstances. The time may be two days if you are a first-time offender, but it is still jail time, nonetheless. Many people convicted of DUI’s are also required to complete a certain number of hours of community service or attend court referral programs such as drunk driving school.
A DUI conviction can impact your employment and personal relationships in the long term the most. If you are looking for a job, your permanent record will show a potential employer that you have been charged with a DUI in the past and he or she may not hire you because of it. Landlords and colleges also run background checks to look for this sort of charge. Your current job will also be affected heavily because of the strain that court dates, jail time, and community service hours place onto your work schedule, putting your job at risk.
Navigating a DUI offense can be tricky, but hiring a DUI attorney that focuses on these types of cases can greatly benefit you. For more information on DUI law and how you can receive the best results for your situation, contact Deaton Law Firm, LLC or read our blog posts online.