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What Happens If I Am Arrested for Driving Under The Influence In South Carolina?

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2023 | DUI |

In South Carolina, driving under the influence (DUI) cases are taken seriously.  Depending on the facts of your case and/or any prior DUI convictions, you could be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor.  When you are arrested for DUI, you will likely have to deal with two different hearings:

  • The criminal court hearing; and
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) administrative hearing regarding your license suspension.

These are two separate considerations and are often confused by many who have never dealt with a DUI arrest. The criminal court could be at the municipal, magistrate or general sessions level depending on several factors, such as your prior record of DUI and/or the facts of your case. For example, if you severely injured someone during the DUI incident then you would be facing a felony in general sessions court.

What is the purpose of a DMV administrative hearing?

In South Carolina, when you obtained your driver’s license, whether you remember or not, you consented to taking a breath test if you were ever charged with DUI.  Thus, if you refuse the breathalyzer test, then it will likely result in a six-month administrative suspension of your driver’s license. An experienced DUI lawyer may be able to help you get your license back before that time period.  Reinstating your license or challenging the suspension is a lengthy and often difficult process. You must request the DMV administrative hearing within 30 days of your DUI arrest and/or notice of suspension. Thus, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away.

If you are convicted of drunk driving charges, your license may be suspended for six months for a first offense. When appropriate, we will argue for a hardship license that allows you to drive on a limited basis to work, to school or to run family errands.

What is the purpose of the criminal court proceeding?

While the DMV Administrative Hearing focuses on license suspension, the criminal court proceedings focus on a criminal conviction.  In addition to facing hefty fines and jail time, the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction are life changing.  A DUI conviction can show up on a background check, can disqualify you for some college scholarships, cause you to face a suspension hearing at your college or university, lose your job, and more. If you live out of state, your DUI conviction will likely follow you to your home state and have implications there as well.

You Should Hire an Experienced DUI Attorney Immediately

As you can see, DUI laws in South Carolina are complicated. Being arrested for DUI is overwhelming. You face quick administrative and criminal proceeding deadlines with potentially life changing consequences, and it is not smart to face these alone. When you are facing DUI charges, you want every possible advantage on your side. Working with a criminal defense lawyer who is a former prosecutor or a former judge is a considerable advantage. At Young & Young, we have successfully prosecuted and defended countless DUI cases.  We are available 24/7 to schedule a free consultation today.