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A DUI in South Carolina is a serious offense. A conviction can result in penalties, time in jail, fines, and suspension or revocation of your driving privileges. For second time DUI offenders, the penalties will be even more severe.
At Touma Law Group, our defense lawyers are prepared to help you fight DUI charges. We have the knowledge and expertise needed to build an aggressive defense for your case and will help you handle your license suspension as well. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment!
Second Offense DUI
DUI cases in South Carolina are taken very seriously, and this holds particularly true for repeat offenders. Previous convictions for DUI or DUAC (Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration) within the last 10 years will count toward that total for a second or third offense. Any DUI conviction taking you to over 3 will be prosecuted as a 3rd offense.
A second offense DUI is charged as a misdemeanor, while a 3rd is recognized as a felony DUI offense. Both second and third offense charges are prosecuted in General Sessions by a state-appointed prosecutor.
A second-time DUI offense will generally result in a short jail sentence, a fine, and a license suspension. There are, however, a multitude of factors that can influence the exact sentencing.
To fully understand how your specific case could develop, or to get answers for any of your legal questions, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. An experienced DUI attorney will be able to build a strong defense tailored to your situation.
Look Back Period
The state has a 10 year look-back period for DUI and DUAC offenses when determining repeat offenders. A subsequent offense committed within that time period will count toward a second or third-time DUI.
This look-back period allows does allow for overlap between DUI and DUAC convictions. This means that if you have a DUAC on record from 3 years ago and are charged with a new DUI today, it will be considered a second offense DUI.
Are DUIs Transferred Between States?
Almost all states will recognize DUI charges processed in another state's justice system. DUI information is typically transferred between states via the Driver's License Compact, so if your license is suspended or revoked from drunk driving in one state you may be unable to acquire a new license in another state. This information sharing will also allow violations in other states to impact your insurance premiums.
Do DUIs Only Involve Alcohol?
No. While alcohol is the most common substance in DUI cases there are certainly others that can result in charges. These include:
- Prescription Medication
A DUI will be considered a 2nd offense charge if the driver has a prior conviction within the past ten years. The case judge will also take into account how far over the legal limit the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) when determining the fines and jail time from the parameters established by South Carolina law.
- Fines: The fines levied against a person convicted of a second DUI will fall between $2,100 and $5,100 depending on the judge's ruling. If the driver's BAC was between 0.10 and 0.16 at the time of the offense the range extends from $2,500 to $5,100, while a driver registering 0.16 BAC or higher will face a fine between $3,500 and $6,500.
- Jail time: A second-time DUI offender faces mandatory jail time, with a minimum sentence of 5 days in jail, with a maximum sentence of 1 year. A higher blood alcohol level at the time of arrest may result in harsher penalties. A blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 to 0.16 carries a range of 30 days to 2 years, and at a BAC of 0.16 or higher, the driver faces 90 days minimum and 3 years maximum in jail.
- Treatment: Drivers in South Carolina who are convicted of a DUI are required to complete the Alcohol Safety Action Program. This process requires a drug and alcohol evaluation followed by successful completion of the recommended substance abuse program.
Drivers convicted of a second-time DUI can face a multitude of additional penalties outside of those mandated by the court.
A convicted DUI will appear on the individual's driving record. A driver convicted of a DUI will face repercussions from their insurance provider, usually in the form of higher premiums.
DUI convictions will show on your criminal record, which can make finding suitable housing or employment more difficult.
The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles will issue an indefinite license suspension period for a driver with more than one DUI conviction. Second offenders must also install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle for 2 years.
In addition to the other penalties, second offenders must enroll in the Ignition Interlock Program. The motorist must install and use an ignition interlock device (IID) on any motor vehicle they own for two years. Any vehicle they own that is not equipped with an Ignition Interlock Device will be immobilized, meaning the license plate and registration will be given up.
What Can I do to Fight DUI Charges?
Second offense DUI charges will be prosecuted in General Sessions by a professional prosecutor. In many cases, the best opportunity is to fight the admission of certain evidence such as breath or blood tests, or the validity of field sobriety tests, into the case. Hiring an experienced Greenville defense lawyer can be enormously beneficial in planning your strategy, building a strong defense, and winning your case or getting reduced sentencing.
Outside of the criminal charges, you may file for an administrative hearing within 30 days of your arrest to appeal your license suspension. Whether your suspension was because you refused to take a breathalyzer test administered by a police officer, which causes an automatic suspension in South Carolina, or because you failed, you can challenge the probable cause for the stop, the validity of the breathalyzer, and a number of other factors that could result in a lessened or negated suspension.
Talk to a DUI Attorney
If you have been charged for driving under the influence of alcohol or other impairing substances you should contact an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible. DUI laws changed regularly, and individual cases can have unique circumstances that are best handled by someone with the knowledge and expertise to get you the best result possible. A talented DUI attorney can be the difference between a DUI conviction and being cleared of charges.
At Touma Law Group, we have the expertise, dedication, and knowledge to help you with your DUI case. Don't put your future at substantial risk. Contact our DUI lawyers today to schedule an appointment!