DUI Lawyer Charleston, SC
If you have been arrested for drunk driving in South Carolina, you may be facing some serious penalties if convicted. Driving while under the influence is one of the leading charges levied against people. Many people mistakenly believe that they can drink alcohol and still safely operate a vehicle. This puts themselves and other people at risk of suffering serious injuries. This is why it is critical to retain the services of a skilled DUI lawyer in Charleston, SC to defend you against these charges.
What Counts as Driving Under the Influence
A DUI charge can be brought against you if a law enforcement officer has reason to believe that you are impaired and are driving under the influence. Drunk driving is mainly determined by your blood alcohol concentration level, or BAC. The legal limit differs according to each state’s laws. If an officer tests your BAC and it is over the legal limit, they can use it to charge you.
Potential Penalties for Conviction
There are serious penalties if you are convicted of DUI, so you should take it seriously if you have a charge against you. It may seem like a minor charge, especially if you believe you consumed a small amount of alcohol, but the consequences can be steep. Not only can you lose your driver’s license, but it impacts you for years if you have DUI on your criminal record. Even if you are convicted for DUI the first time, you can face serious penalties, such as a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. For people who have multiple convictions, you could suffer a longer jail sentence and have your license revoked for years. Every state makes its own DUI laws. In South Carolina, the penalties for conviction are:
- First offense: Suspension of driver’s license for six months, fine of up to $440 ($992 with assessments and surcharges), and/or jail time of 48 hours to 30 days.
- Second offense: Suspension of driver’s license for one year, fine of between $2,100 to $5,100 ($10,744.50 with assessments and surcharges), and/or jail time of five days to one year.
- Third offense: Suspension of driver’s license for two years, fine of between $3,800 to $6,300 ($13,234.50 with assessments and surcharges), and/or jail time of 60 days to three years. If the third offense occurs within five years of the first offense, license is suspended for four years. If the third or subsequent offense occurs within 10 years of the first offense, the vehicle used must be confiscated if the offender is the owner or a resident of the household of the owner.
- Fourth offense: Permanent revocation of driver’s license and jail time of between one to five years.
Multiple DUI convictions can lead to permanent consequences. You should not attempt to take on a DUI charge on your own. A lawyer will be able to skillfully defend you. If you have trouble understanding the laws for DUI, a lawyer can explain them to you and how they impact your case. Learn more by requesting a consultation with a skilled DUI lawyer.
How to Act at DUI Checkpoints
Regardless if you have been drinking or not, you should know what to do at DUI stop. Police set up DUI checkpoints on certain days in order to catch drunk drivers. It can be intimidating to be approached by an officer, but it’s important that you stay calm. When you approach a DUI stop, knowing how to protect your legal rights is critical and can help you get through the stop efficiently with minimal confrontation.
You should not panic because it can make you look more suspicious. Stay focused and pay close attention to the officer’s instructions. The officer may ask you to step out of your vehicle and request you to take several sobriety tests. Even if you have consumed alcohol, it is not advised for you to refuse a breathalyzer test.
Hiring a Skilled DUI Lawyer
Based on the above potential penalties, you want to make sure you hire a Charleston DUI lawyer who is experienced and skilled in drunk driving cases. Although every case is different, you want to make sure that your lawyer is familiar with how to handle the circumstances that may be present in your case that could have an impact on the outcome. You should hire a lawyer who is committed to advocating for you and providing legal assistance that you deserve.
In the majority of law firms, lawyers work with a legal team that is usually made up of junior attorneys, paralegals, law clerks, and legal assistants. The legal team all works together to build the strongest DUI defense available. It is important that you meet each of the people who will be working on your case.
Another important question to know the answer to is how often the drunk driving lawyer’s cases actually go to trial. Many DUI and other criminal cases are resolved without a trial and jury verdict. Often, depending on the circumstances, charges are dropped completely or both the defense lawyer and prosecutor are able to negotiate a plea deal.
One thing to keep in mind, however, although it is important to hire a DUI lawyer who is skilled at negotiation, you do not want to hire one who only seeks plea bargains as an easy way out, even when the evidence is overwhelmingly in the client’s favor for an acquittal.
Contact Our Office Today
If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, call Joe Good, Attorney at Law to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Charleston DUI lawyer. We will work diligently to defend you against these charges and obtain the best possible legal outcome based on the circumstances of the case.
Common Myths About DUI Charges
If you have recently been charged with a DUI, you may feel stressed out and scared. You don’t know if you will go to jail or have a permanent criminal record. It’s important to know the facts behind DUI charges so that you avoid making mistakes in your case.
Here are some common myths about DUI charges.
- A DUI isn’t a big deal. Some people put a DUI in the same category as a traffic ticket. However, a DUI charge carries much stiffer penalties than a ticket for speeding or not stopping at a stop sign. It’s a criminal offense that can result in heavy fines and jail time. Therefore, even if this is your first DUI charge, you shouldn’t take it lightly.
- Your blood alcohol content can’t be challenged. If a police officer pulls you over for suspicion of drunk driving, he or she will likely ask you to take a breath test to determine your blood alcohol content. If it’s above the legal limit, the police officer can arrest you. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t challenge the results later on. In some cases, breathalyzers can produce inaccurate results due to human error or certain medical conditions.
- If you get charged with a DUI, you’re automatically guilty. Just because you got charged with a DUI, doesn’t mean that you will be convicted. An experienced DUI lawyer can investigate your case and come up with a proper defense. For example, if a police officer didn’t have probable cause to pull you over in the first place, your case might get dismissed.
- When stopped by a police officer, you have to answer all questions. After stopping you for suspicion of drunk driving, a police officer may ask you several questions, such as how much you have had to drink. Understand that you’re only required to provide your full name and other identifying information. Once you do that, it’s in your best interest to stay silent. Everything you say can be used against you in court.
- Any lawyer can handle your DUI case. If you have been charged with a DUI, it’s important to consult a lawyer soon. However, you shouldn’t hire just any lawyer. The lawyer you select should specialize in criminal law and DUI cases. He or she will know the DUI laws in your states and improve your chances of a favorable outcome.