Understanding a DUI
A Serious Charge with Real Consequences
Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances can be very dangerous. If you are arrested and charged with a DUI or related crime, it can have a serious impact on your life for years to come. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI, it is critical that you learn more about what this means, what you can expect, and what you need to do to protect yourself moving forward.
What Exactly is a DUI?
A DUI simply means driving under the influence. In the vast majority of cases, this means driving under the influence of alcohol, though it can also apply to operating a vehicle while influenced by drugs (legal or illegal) as well. In South Carolina, as with most other states in the country, the legal blood alcohol content to drive is below .08% for the average adult driver. For commercial drivers, that limit drops to .04%, and for those under the legal drinking age of 21, it drops to .02%.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that a DUI can be issued when you are operating just about any type of vehicle. Most commonly it applies to normal passenger vehicles, but you can also get a DUI for operating a motorcycle, boat, 4-wheeler, and many other motorized machines. Regardless of what it is you are operating, a DUI will typically start out by being pulled over by the police. If they suspect you are under the influence, they will request that you take a field sobriety test.
When the police ask you to take a field sobriety test, they are looking to determine whether or not you are unsafe to be operating a vehicle. There are quite a few different types of field sobriety tests that the police can ask you to take, including the following:
- Breathalyzer – This is a device which you breathe into, which measures the amount of alcohol in your system.
- Straight Walking – Walking a straight line on the side of the road to see if you can complete it without losing your balance.
- Touching Your Nose – Holding your arms out and trying to touch your nose by just bending your elbow. This is fairly simple while sober, but difficult when you’ve been drinking.
- Others – The police can ask you to do quite a few different activities to determine whether or not you’re under the influence.
Even if you’ve failed one of these tests, however, don’t lose hope. There are ways to cast doubt on these tests, or even get them thrown out of your case. Just because you were unable to perform certain tasks like this, does not mean you should be found guilty of a DUI.
In the state of South Carolina, anyone who is arrested and charged with a DUI after either registering a .15 or higher on a chemical test or refusing the sobriety test will have their driver’s license immediately suspended. You can appeal this suspension, but you need to file the appeal within 30 days, so it is important to act fast. It is often possible to get a temporary permit that allows you to drive while you are working through the DUI charges.
If you choose to plead guilty, or you are convicted of the DUI, your license will be suspended for a minimum of one year for first time offenders. Repeat offenders can lose their right to drive for significantly longer.
Once your case comes up in court, you will either need to plead guilty, or fight the charges. If you plead guilty or are found guilty by the courts, you will be facing some very serious penalties. There are a number of factors that are used to determine what the penalties will be including how far above the legal limit you were, how many offenses you have been charged with in the past, and whether or not you caused an accident. These penalties can follow you around for years to come, so don’t give up and plead guilty without a fight. We are here to help.
In addition to going to court for your DUI, you may also need to have a DMV hearing to try to get your driving privileges restored. The DMV hearings are typically heard within a number of days of your arrest, unlike the DUI hearing, which may take weeks or even months to come up. We can represent you in these hearings to fight to have your driver’s license restored. Even in cases where the DMV won’t completely restore your license, it is often possible to get a permit that allows you to drive to and from work or other specific locations.
Never Face a DUI Alone
No matter how much evidence it seems the police have against you, it is always in your best interests to have an experienced attorney fighting by your side. Contact Beaufort DUI to ensure you are making the right decisions throughout this difficult process.