The Richland, South Carolina, criminal defense attorneys at the Michael Jeffcoat Firm are no stranger to the important questions that you are likely to have when facing DUI charges. We know that this is a difficult time in your life, and you need answers fast. Today, we’ll look at the most frequently asked important questions about DUI charges in Richland, South Carolina and what you need to do next.
Are You Facing a DUI or DWI Charge?
This question is common among people who are unfamiliar with the system or with how these charges are handled in South Carolina. Whether it is your first time facing such charges, or whether you come from another state, you may be confused here. DUI stands for ‘driving under the influence.’ DWI stands for ‘driving while intoxicated.’ Essentially, these are the same thing. It is simply a difference in terminology that varies between different states. In South Carolina, the crime is a DUI.
Are You Going to Go to Jail for a DUI Charge?
A DUI is a criminal offense which does come with jail time. You were likely taken straight to jail when arrested for a DUI, but this does not qualify as your jail sentence. Rather, you will likely end up with a jail sentence beyond this if you are convicted of the crime in court or if you accept a plea bargain that includes serving a jail sentence. Even so, not all DUI charges will lead to conviction, and not all convictions will include a jail sentence. It all depends on the details of your case and what you criminal defense attorney is able to accomplish on your behalf.
Are You Facing a Misdemeanor DUI Charge or a Felony DUI Charge?
DUI charges can be misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the details of your case. If it is you first through third offense, then you are probably being charged with a misdemeanor DUI. This will result in fines between $400 and $10K, depending on how many prior convictions you have and the severity of the damage you caused. You may also get a jail sentence between two days and five years. Your license can also be suspended for up to four years or as little as six months. Once you reach your fourth DUI offense, it is no longer a misdemeanor charge. Rather, you face a felony charge that comes with up to seven years in prison and a license revocation that is permanent.
Are Richland, South Carolina, DUI Checkpoints Legal?
In some states, it is illegal for the police to set up DUI checkpoints. However, this is not so in South Carolina. If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Richland, South Carolina, this is a legal way to catch you driving under the influence, and you can be charged with the crime.
Will Your Auto Insurance Rates be Impacted by a DUI Conviction?
If you are not convicted of the crime, then the charges themselves should not impact your auto insurance rates. However, if you are convicted, then the DUI conviction will result in you having to pay a higher auto insurance policy premium. You may also have to carry an SR-22, required by the DMV, to prove that you have liability insurance on your vehicle.
What Happens if You Move to Another State and Get a Subsequent DUI?
If you move to another state where you get a subsequent DUI charge, your charges from South Carolina will still be relevant to your case. South Carolina is part of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, which is an agreement between multiple states to ensure that DUI drivers are held accountable even if they move from one state to another.
Will Others Be Able to See that You Have Been Charged with a DUI in Richland, South Carolina?
Because DUI charges are a matter of public record, anyone who wishes to do a bit of research on you will be able to find out about them. Unfortunately, this is true even if you are innocent, because it is your arrest record that will be made public, regardless of whether or not you are convicted. Further, if you are applying for a new job or engaging in any other activities which require a criminal background check, any pending DUI charges will also show up in this report. If you are convicted, then this conviction will show up on your criminal record and impact employment opportunities in the future. It is not possible to expunge a DUI charge unless it does not result in conviction.
Can You Get Your DUI Charges Dismissed or Reduced in Richland, South Carolina?
It is possible to get your charges dismissed or reduced. Your Richland, South Carolina, DUI defense attorney can work on your behalf to achieve these goals. You may get your charges reduced to reckless driving charges, for example. It is also possible to get a plea deal with lesser traffic charges, depending on your case. Every case is different, and you attorney will help you to get the best possible outcome. It is also possible in some cases to suppress or dismiss certain forms of evidence. For example, if there is any question as to the reliability of the breathalyzer machine, then your attorney could argue to have this evidence dismissed from the case. If this happens, then the prosecution may not have a leg to stand on, and that could result in the charges being dismissed altogether.
Is it in Your Best Interests to Work with a Richland, South Carolina, DUI Defense Attorney?
It is absolutely in your best interests to work with a determined Richland, South Carolina, DUI defense attorney if you are facing DUI charges. Whether it is your first charge or your fifth charge, it is equally essential to have an attorney on your side. This is your best chance of getting your charges dropped or reduced, and it may be your only possibility to avoid jail time and heavy fines. Contact the Michael Jeffcoat Firm to learn more about how we can help you get the best possible outcome in your DUI case.
Mr. Jeffcoat, a native of the Columbia area, founded the law firm in 1999. Mr. Jeffcoat got his undergraduate degree at Wofford College in 1994, majoring in Political Economy and Philosophy, and then went to the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he received his J.D. in 1997. After working in two law firms following his graduation from law school, Jeffcoat ventured out on his own to launch The Jeffcoat Firm in March of 1999.