Arrested For DUI in South Carolina? Frequently Asked Questions

South Carolina DUI Attorney

Q: Should you hire a lawyer for a DUI arrest?
A: You have the right to an attorney.  It is your decision whether to represent yourself or to hire an attorney.  Hiring an experienced attorney is strongly recommended because DUI law in South Carolina is complex and a DUI conviction has serious consequences.  The first thing a criminal defense lawyer will do is explain the legal process to you, examine the evidence in your case, and fight your license suspension (if possible).  An experienced lawyer will also challenge the police investigation, negotiate with the prosecutor, and present the best defense possible at trial (if necessary).

Q: Is it legal for you to drink alcohol and drive a vehicle in South Carolina?
A: Yes.  Please note that drinking and driving becomes illegal when a person’s faculties to drive are materially and appreciably impaired.  Whether you are guilty of driving under the influence is a matter of opinion.  This is why hiring an experienced DUI lawyer to defend you is a critical decision and extremely important.

Q: What are your rights?
A: Click Here to Know Your Rights!

Q: What are the standard field sobriety tests?
A: There are three standard field sobriety tests: (1) Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – HGN; (2) Walk and Turn; and (3) One-leg stand.

Q: Do you have a right to refuse the field sobriety tests?
A: Yes. You have a right to refuse a field sobriety test.

Q: Do you have a right to refuse the Datamaster DMT (Breath) test?
A: Yes. Please note that a refusal of the breath test can result in a six month suspension of your license and that you can challenge the suspension in a contested case hearing (must request hearing within 30 days of the notice of suspension).

Q: Were you legally arrested?
A: There are many factors that an experienced attorney examines when challenging your arrest:

(1) Was it a legal traffic stop (probable cause of a traffic violation or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity)?

(2) Did the officer comply with all of the statutory requirements at the incident site (video recording, field sobriety tests, Miranda rights, etc…)?

(3) Did the officer comply with all of the statutory requirements at the breath test site (video recording, check mouth, wait period, etc…)?

Q: If arrested for DUI, will your license be suspended?
A: It depends.  If you refused to take the breath test (breathalyzer) or had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher, your license will be suspended.

Q: If your license is suspended because of a DUI arrest, can you get a temporary alcohol restricted license (TARL)?
A: Yes. You must request a contested case hearing within 30 days of the arrest before applying for a TARL with the DMV.  If you did not request a hearing and you have enrolled in the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP), you may still be eligible for a Route Restricted Driver’s License (you are only permitted one route restricted license).

Q: If you took the breath test and your BAC was over 0.08, are you guilty of DUI?
A: No.  A BAC level above 0.08 only creates evidence that a jury may use to infer impairment.  Please note that your BAC level can result in being charged with a separate crime of Driving with Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC).

Q: What is the difference between DUI and DUAC?
A: The charges have a different burden of proof.  DUI requires proof that your faculties were materially and appreciably impaired.  DUAC only requires that your BAC level was above 0.08.

Q: Does DUI apply to prescription medications and/or illegal drugs?
A: Yes. The focus is on your ability to drive and whether it was impaired by a substance.  The prosecutor has to prove that the medication and/or drugs were in your system and that the medication and/or drugs impaired your ability to drive.

Q: If arrested or convicted, do you have to get an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle?
A: It depends.  If you are charged or convicted of DUI, you can possibly shorten your license suspension by enrolling in the IID program, and the IID is mandatory for some of the DUI convictions.

Q: If you have a prior DUI from another state, can that conviction be used to enhance a DUI offense in South Carolina?
A: It depends.  If the prior DUI conviction was within the last 10 years, it can be used to enhance a new DUI charge in South Carolina.

Q: If you have an out-of-state driver’s license, can my license be suspended?
A: Yes.  If your “home state” finds out about the arrest or conviction, that state can suspend your license. Please note that your privilege to drive in South Carolina will also be suspended until you have satisfied the requirements under South Carolina law.

Q: Can you be charged with DUI for sitting in a parked car?
A: It depends.  The prosecutor has to prove you were driving (had the vehicle in motion).  Please note that an officer may arrest you if there is evidence that you were recently driving the vehicle.

Q: Can you be charged with DUI while operating a boat on a lake or river?
A: Yes.  A person can be charged with boating under the influence in South Carolina.

Q: Does a DUI arrest show up on a criminal background check?
A: Yes.  An arrest record is created whenever you are booked into the jail.

Q: Can I get a DUI conviction expunged from my criminal record?
A: No.  Based on the current law in South Carolina, DUI convictions cannot be expunged.  Please note that a dismissal can be expunged.

Q: Do I have a right to appeal a DUI conviction?
A: Yes.  Please note that you or your attorney must file a notice of appeal within the required time period.

FREE, CONFIDENTIAL, AND PERSONALIZED DUI CASE REVIEW

Call the Michael Jeffcoat Firm 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 803-636-2728 to schedule a free consultation.  We are located at 4723-A Sunset Blvd., Lexington, SC 29072.

See also: Frequently Asked Questions in South Carolina Criminal Cases

WARNING: This Does Not Constitute Legal AdviceDo not rely on the accuracy of this information because laws are subject to change.  You are strongly encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney in any legal matter.  If you take action in your case without an attorney, it may negatively affect your legal rights.

DISCLAIMER:  This information does not create an attorney-client relationship.  The information provided in this document is not legal advice, cannot be cited as legal authority, and cannot replace the advice of an attorney in South Carolina.

South Carolina laws

  • Driving under the Influence Laws in South Carolina
  • Emma’s Law
  • 56-5-2930 Operating motor vehicle while under influence of alcohol or drugs
  • 56-5-2933 Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration
  • 56-5-2941 Ignition interlock device
  • 56-5-2920 Reckless driving

Driving Under the Influence Resources:

Related Terms

  • South Carolina DUI Attorney
  • Lexington DUI Attorney
  • University of South Carolina
  • USC Student Attorney
  • Columbia DUI Lawyer
  • DUAC Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration
  • Hit and Run
  • Open Container
  • DUS Driving Under Suspension
  • Implied Consent