Being arrested for DUI in South Carolina can be an intimidating experience leaving you with a lot of uncertainty about what happens next. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI 1st in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, or elsewhere in South Carolina, here are some of the main things you should know:
Your License May Be Suspended in South Carolina
After the arrest, you were likely offered a breath or blood test. If you refused the test, your license is suspended for 6 months, and you will have to enroll in the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (called “ADSAP”). If you took the test and your blood-alcohol concentration (called “BAC”) was 0.15% or higher, then your license is suspended and you will have to enroll in ADSAP. However, you can challenge this suspension if you request an “implied consent” hearing within 30 days.
Importantly, while you wait on the hearing, you will be able to obtain a Temporary Alcohol License and drive. This Temporary Alcohol License is not a route restricted license. In fact, assuming you intend on challenging the hearing, you shouldn’t apply for a route restricted license at this time. Instead, you should get your hearing request out immediately so that you can obtain your Temporary Alcohol License as soon as possible.
Remember, you can’t obtain your Temporary Alcohol License until the DMV has notice that your hearing is requested, and this normally takes 2 – 7 days, so every day that you wait is a day that you may have a suspended license unnecessarily. In the meantime, don’t drive on a suspended license! We can’t stress enough that there is too much to lose if you are caught driving on a suspended license, and it will lower the chances of a favorable resolution to your DUI charge. Call a cab, catch a ride, but wait until you get your Temporary Alcohol License before you get behind the wheel.
Your Vehicle May Be Impounded in South Carolina
Generally, unless you were arrested in your driveway, your car was towed away. Get your car out of the impound as soon as possible. The impound rates are calculated on a daily basis, so every day that goes by wastes money. If your license is suspended, as described above, you may need to bring two people with you to get your car: one to drive you all there, a second person to drive your car home, and yourself obviously. Contact the impound yard before you go (there should be information on this in the paperwork the police officer gave you) to determine exactly what their policies are on releasing vehicles, including what you need to bring and how much it is going to cost.
Your Court Date and Other Important Information Are on Your Ticket
Below is a picture of a South Carolina Uniform Traffic Ticket.
Read over your ticket. First, about a third of the way down on the left side, you will see 4 boxes that read “DATE OF TRIAL” and “TIME OF TRIAL.” This is your first court date. It is possible that you could be convicted on this date, and we urge you to not go to court alone!
Also important is to note the place where you need to be for court on the line just above where the trial date is listed. Do not assume the court date is put off unless your DUI attorney tells you unequivocally that you do not need to be there. If any mistake is made and you do not show up when you should have, the court could try your case in your absence and convict you of DUI.
Another box to review is the one at the bottom right. This box indicates what your BAC was. If you refused, the police officer likely indicated such in this box.
You May have Other Traffic or Criminal Charges
Go through every page of the paperwork that the police officer gave you. Make sure that there are no other tickets and that you do not have any other arrest warrants within. Other charges could be criminal charges, either a misdemeanor or felony, or they could be simple traffic or vehicle violations.
Also, look at the bottom of your Bail Proceeding Form, shown below. Here, it may indicate whether you need to appear in General Sessions Court, Municipal/Magistrate Court, or both. Documents such as these indicate whether other charges may be pending. Your attorney will ultimately identify whether any other charges are pending, but this is information that you should be aware of now.
You Can’t Leave South Carolina
Nearly every bail/bond proceeding in South Carolina is going to use the form shown below. Paragraph 1 of this form reads: “THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED: 1. That the above-named defendant be released from custody on the condition that he will personally appear before the designated court at the place, date, and time required to answer the charge made against him and do what shall be ordered by the court and not depart the State without permission of the court and be of good behavior.”
There May Be Other Special Conditions of Your Bond
Check the reverse side or page 2 of your Bail Proceeding Form, specifically paragraphs A-D in the section entitled “SPECIAL CONDITIONS OF RELEASE.” If there are any other conditions of your bond, they should be listed here.
You May Be Offered a “Deal” of Pleading Guilty to Driving With an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC)
Please do not plead to DUAC without first reading our article regarding why you should think twice before taking that “deal.” Click here to read it.
Your South Carolina Criminal record Will Show an “Arrest” for DUI
Because you were booked and fingerprinted, the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) will keep a record of the arrest. This does not mean you are convicted. Remember, DUI and DUAC convictions can’t be expunged for your record. To learn more about expungements in South Carolina, click here.
You Don’t Need any Special Insurance at this Time
Some people have come to our office believing that they needed to get SR-22 insurance, which can be much more expensive than regular automobile insurance. Do not worry about your insurance company at this time. SR-22 will only be required if you are convicted of DUI or DUAC.
Contact a DUI lawyer from Futeral & Nelson Today
Preparing for the first court date, getting you a license to drive, and obtaining permission to leave the state, are three time-sensitive matters. Even if you are concerned with your immediate ability to pay, talk to a Charleston DUI Lawyer from Futeral & Nelson. We offer free DUI and criminal consultations. We can help you get your Temporary Alcohol License, explain to you what your rights are, and explain what costs and issues you might have ahead. There is no reason to wait, but there are lots of reasons not to, so contact us today and schedule an appointment for a free consultation.