When it comes to DUI charges in South Carolina, the consequences are not always cut and dry. If you are convicted of DUI, the penalties—ranging from fines to jail time—depends on a number of factors. That’s why it is important to familiarize yourself with the various DUI charges and what they can entail so you can better prepare for the aftermath of your DUI.
Even more importantly, with such a broad range of variance in possible jail times, you need an experienced attorney who can fight for the best possible outcome for your DUI charge.
What is DUI?
In South Carolina, you can be charged with DUI when you operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol—to the point that your ability to drive the vehicle is affected.
It is crucial to realize that a DUI conviction is no small matter. You could receive jail time if you are convicted, whether it is your first or fourth DUI offense. The amount of jail time you receive depends on whether you have prior offenses and what your blood alcohol content (BAC) was at the time of arrest.
|Offense #||BAC||Possible jail time||Fine*|
|First||< 0.10%||48 hours – 30 days||OR fine|
|First||0.10-0.15%||72 hours – 30 days||OR fine|
|First||> 0.15%||30 – 90 days||OR fine|
|Second||< 0.10%||5 days – 1 year||AND fine|
|Second||0.10-0.15%||30 days – 2 years||AND fine|
|Second||> 0.15%||90 days – 3 years||AND fine|
|Third||< 0.10%||60 days – 3 years||AND fine|
|Third||0.10-0.15%||90 days – 4 years||AND fine|
|Third||> 0.15%||6 months – 5 years||AND fine|
|Fourth||< 0.10%||1 – 5 years||–|
|Fourth||0.10-0.15%||2 – 6 years||–|
|Fourth||> 0.15%||3 – 7 years||–|
*The above jail terms with an “AND” mean you get jail time plus a fine. Jail terms with “OR” mean, if convicted, you will receive either jail time or a fine.
Felony DUI with Death or Great Bodily Injury
If you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and cause an accident that results in serious injury or a fatality, you can be charged with felony DUI with death or great bodily injury. For a charge of that magnitude, if you are convicted, the penalties will be harsh.
If a DUI results in great bodily injury—injury that creates a substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, or loss or impairment of any body function—you will face from 30 days to 15 years in jail.
If, however, you are convicted of DUI with death, you will face between 1 and 25 years in jail.
Judicial Discretion: Why does it matter?
Judicial discretion is the power of a judge to make decisions in cases without having to adhere to precedent or strict rules established by statutes. It is also what determines where a sentence falls within statutory guidelines. It is why possible jail times for DUI charges can vary so greatly. A judge can consider a few different factors in determining the length of jail time. These factors include whether you have a criminal record outside of your DUI charges.
A judge will also consider other mitigating factors during sentencing, such as how great of a role you played in the crime, whether you have a history with addiction, whether you caused harm, and a number of other circumstances. This is the time when a good defense attorney matters most. It is important that you have a lawyer who can make a solid argument on your behalf in mitigation.
Charged with DUI? Get in touch.
Have you been charged with DUI in South Carolina? You might be scared and unsure of next steps or the penalties you could face.
You do not have to go through this process alone. Get in touch with us at Kulp & Elliott to find an experienced lawyer who will have your back every step of the way. To speak to a lawyer directly, give us a call at 843-853-3310.