If you are facing charges of driving under the influence of alcohol in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, you might not know what to expect. A DUI conviction in Myrtle Beach can result in both criminal and civil consequences that might vary, depending on the circumstances of what happened and whether it is your first or subsequent offense. Being convicted of driving under the influence can carry a potential jail or prison sentence, a loss of your driving privileges, and heavy fines. It can also cause collateral consequences that continue impacting your life long after your sentence is completed.
You should not plead guilty to driving under the influence unless your defense lawyer has thoroughly investigated your case and has prepared for a potential trial. By working hard to prepare cases throughout the litigation process, the attorneys at The Lovely Law Firm have found that it might be easier to either negotiate a more favorable outcome or win your case at trial. Here is what you need to know about the consequences of being convicted of driving under the influence in South Carolina.
In many cases, it is less expensive to retain a good criminal defense attorney than it is to enter a guilty plea to a charge of driving under the influence. This is because of the hidden financial consequences of this type of conviction, including the following:
Court costs and fines of several thousand dollars
Costs of a license suspension under implied consent, including ADSAP fees, installation of an ignition interlock device, and license reinstatement fees
SR-22 insurance costs for at least three years
Potential job loss and trouble finding a new job after a conviction
When you lose your driving privileges, it can impact your ability to earn an income to support your family. Losing your driver's license can also cause embarrassment. When you are arrested for driving under the influence, your license might be suspended in the following three ways.
All drivers in the state are deemed to have given their implied consent to a blood or breath test for the presence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse a breathalyzer or returned a result of higher than 0.15%, you will face an automatic suspension of your license. To get your license back, you will need to request a hearing within 30 days of your arrest. If you do not ask for a hearing or lose at it, you will have to complete the ADSAP program before you can get your license back. You may also have to install an ignition interlock device in every vehicle that you drive.
If you plead guilty to a DUI or are convicted at trial, your driving privileges will be suspended. You will also have to complete the ADSAP program and might be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicles before you can get your license back. This type of suspension is separate from and in addition to any suspension that you received under the state's implied consent laws.
If you have been convicted of three or more major violations of the traffic laws within the past three years, your driver's license will be revoked for five years. Major traffic violations in the state include driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration, driving under the influence, and reckless driving.
There are several other collateral consequences that you might face after a conviction for driving under the influence. A conviction for a DUI is permanent, meaning that future employers and other entities that check your criminal record will see the conviction. This type of offense cannot be expunged.
This means that you will be unlikely to find work that requires you to drive and may be excluded from being considered by other employers because of having a criminal record. Many countries, including Canada and multiple countries in Europe, do not let people enter if they have convictions for driving under the influence. A drunk driving conviction may also make you ineligible for federal and state scholarships and might impact your eligibility for other types of student aid for college. If you have a professional license for your job, this type of conviction might also cause the licensing board to take action against your professional license or to deny your application for one. Finally, applications you make for certain apartment leases or homes may be denied if you have a criminal record.
Under S.C. Code § 56-5-2930, the criminal penalties that you might face after being convicted of drunk driving will depend on whether you have had any prior drunk driving offenses and whether you seriously injured or killed someone in an accident while driving drunk.
For the first offense without an accident, you can face the following consequences:
Jail from two up to 90 days
Fine from $400 up to $1,000
Suspension of your driver's license for six months
For a second offense, you can face the following consequences:
Jail of up to one to three years, depending on your BAC
Fine from $5,100 to $6,500
One-year driver's license revocation
For a third offense, you will face the following consequences, depending on your BAC:
Jail for up to three to five years, depending on your BAC
Fine of up to $6,300 to $10,000
Revocation of your driver's license from two to four years
If you are convicted of a fourth offense or cause an accident that resulted in the death or serious injuries of another person, it is a felony. A felony offense that did not cause serious injuries or death can result in the following penalties:
Up to five to seven years in jail
Permanent license revocation
If you are convicted of felony drunk driving resulting in death or serious bodily injury, you will face the following penalties:
Incarceration from 30 days to 25 years
Fine from $5,100 up to $25,100
Suspension of your driving privileges from three to five years
It is illegal to operate a vehicle in the state with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. If someone suffered great bodily injury in your accident, you will be sentenced to spend from 30 days up to 15 years in jail and pay a fine from $5,100 to $10,100. If someone died in an accident you caused while driving under the influence, the sentence that you will face if you are convicted of the felony will range from one to 25 years of prison and a fine from $10,100 to $25,100.
The state legislature passed Emma's Law in 2014. This is a comprehensive law modifying the state's laws for driving under the influence. This law was named after a six-year-old girl who was killed on New Year's Day in 2012 by a drunk driver while she was riding to church with her family.
A part of this law covers the installation of ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of people who have been convicted of drunk driving. An IID is wired into your vehicle's ignition and will not allow you to start your car unless you pass a breathalyzer by blowing into a tube. This law requires IIDs to be installed in the vehicles of many people who are convicted of drunk driving, including some people who are convicted of first offenses. Some people might have to install IIDs in their vehicles based on the results of their breathalyzer tests even if they ultimately avoid convictions for drunk driving. If you are convicted of a second offense, you may be required to install an IID in your vehicle for up to two years. The devices are monitored by the probation department. If you fail to comply, you can be taken back to court.
If you are facing a charge of driving under the influence, the consequences that you might face are severe. It is critical for you to talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer at The Lovely Law Firm in Myrtle Beach as soon as possible. Contact us today at (843) 281-7205 to request a free evaluation of your case.