Your Myrtle Beach DUI Case: The Basics

It was your 10-year high school reunion. You couldn't wait to relive your glory days of football, prom, and "the one who got away." You had the time of your life -- eating, reminiscing, and most importantly, drinking. You and the boys can still keep up with each other. After the reunion, you decide to continue living out your endless summer by hitting up more bars in Myrtle Beach.

You make the very poor decision to drive home after your night of fun. As you coast down S Ocean Boulevard, you realize police lights are behind you. Here comes trouble. The Myrtle Beach Police won't want to hear what a fabulous time you had.

Now you've been arrested and are sobbing in a jail cell after failing miserably on the field sobriety tests and blowing a .17. You call your girlfriend and tell her you need bail money, fast.

Next stop is your arraignment at the courthouse. Here's what may happen next in a Myrtle Beach DUI case.

Am I Going to Stay in Jail?

That depends. If you committed a felony, you'll be there until your arraignment. If not, you'll be released with a promise to appear at a later time. At the arraignment, a judge will inform you of the charges and set bail. She may impose additional conditions, such as alcohol testing. You will enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, or no contest. You can hire a lawyer, represent yourself, or ask for a Horry County public defender.

What's Going to Happen to My Driver's License?

Your driver's license in South Carolina will be suspended if you are found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The length of the suspension will be 6 months for a first offense, 12 months for a second offense or two years for a third offense. You might be eligible for a provisional license, which allows you to drive to work, school, medical appointments and treatment programs. A provisional license costs about $100. Call the South Carolina DMV to check if you are eligible.

What If I'm Found "Not Guilty?"

When you get a DUI in Myrtle Beach, you have to deal with two issues: the criminal case and the administrative, driver's license portion. Basically, the DUI criminal process may have separate administrative aspects that are not controlled by the outcome of the DUI criminal case.

Even if you are found not guilty of a DUI, you could still incur a license suspension for an implied consent violation (refusing to provide a breath or blood sample), or having a blood alcohol content of .16 or more. Sound confusing? It can be. You may wish to speak with an attorney about your options.

DUI Charges

In Myrtle Beach, there are a variety of ways drivers are charged with being impaired by drugs or alcohol. Here's the most common:

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

This charge may result if:

  1. You are driving and determined to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs; or
  2. Your chemical test result is 0.08%. BAC or higher.

DUI Under 21 Years

Hear ye, hear ye, young Myrtle Beach drivers. Thinking about drinking and driving? Bad move. South Carolina has zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. If your BAC is .02% or higher, there are consequences: two to 30 days in jail, a fine, and a license suspension. Bottom line: if you are under 21 and have been drinking, don't even think of getting behind the wheel. It's definitely not worth it.

Ignition Interlock Device

Hear, ye, hear ye one more time. If you've been convicted of two or more DUI offenses, you'll have to install a little device in any car you own or operate. It's called an "ignition interlock device" and is designed to make sure you aren't drinking alcohol and driving. Any time you attempt to start your car, you must blow into the device. Here's a useful guide to ignition interlock devices (PDF).

Implied Consent

Okay, we will. South Carolina's implied consent law says that refusing to take an alcohol test will result in an automatic six-month driver's license suspension. Ouch. This is in addition to any penalties you'll receive if you are convicted or plead in the criminal case.

Star in Your Own DUI Drama

Ever wanted to star in your crime drama? Here's your chance. South Carolina's DUI law requires the arresting officer to videotape all aspects of the DUI arrest and any testing whether onsite or in the police station. There are pretty specific requirements regarding when the video must be activated and what must be done in front of it. If these rules are not followed, cases can be dismissed on statutory grounds.

If the proceedings cannot be videotaped, the officer must complete a sworn affidavit certifying that it was physically impossible to conduct the videotaping.

Note, the prosecutor has the option of showing the videotape to the jury during the trial.

Will a DUI Conviction Go On My Driving Record?

Absolutely. A DUI conviction will go on your South Carolina driving record and remain indefinitely. You may be able to get the conviction expunged from your criminal record after a period of time.

Are My Insurance Rates Going to Go Up?

If you are convicted of a Myrtle Beach DUI, one of two things will likely happen. Either your insurance company will raise your rates, or your policy could be cancelled or not renewed. You'll also need to furnish the DMV with an SR-22 certificate to reinstate a license after suspension as proof of insurability. Most insurance companies furnish this form to the DMV.

Remember, it's best to never drink or use drugs and drive. Select a designated driver ahead of time who will stay sober. You can also ask someone else to give you a ride, call a taxi, or use public transportation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.