Your Greenville DUI Case: The Basics

Things just keep going downhill for your brother. Gambling, women, spending too much money. Now this. He was having one of his usual lavish evenings -- cocktails in the lobby bar of the Westin Poinsett, then dinner at Larkin's on the River, followed by late night jazz. All was fine until he decided he was sober enough to drive. Bad move. He fell asleep at the wheel and struck a guardrail. The Greenville Police hauled him in for his 2nd DUI in two years. Now he's sitting in a jail cell at the Greenville County Detention Center vowing to change.

What's your family going to say? Will he lose his license Does he need a lawyer? Is he going to jail forever? Here's some general information about what may happen in a generic Greenville DUI case.

Greenville DUIs are a Two-Part Process

Most people don't realize that when they are arrested for a DUI in Greenville, they'll have to deal with two historically unpopular government agencies: the South Carolina DMV and the South Carolina courts. Why? Because the DMV will handle your license suspension pursuant to the implied consent laws and the courts will deal with your criminal case.

Your License Suspension

Your South Carolina driver's license will be suspended in one of two scenarios: if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is a .15 or higher as measured or you refuse to take a chemical test. The police will use an instrument known as a Datamaster to measure the amount of alcohol in your system.

As a South Carolina driver, you've already given your implied consent to take this test. If you refuse it will result in an automatic six-month driver's license suspension. This is in addition to any penalties you'll receive if you are convicted or plead in the criminal case. Here's a summary of typical license suspension penalties:

No Prior DUIs

BAC of more than .15: Between One-Six Months

Refusal: Six Months

One Prior DUI

BAC of more than .15: Between Two-Nine Months

Refusal: Nine Months

Two Prior DUIs

BAC of more than .15: Between Three-Twelve Months

Refusal: Twelve Months

Three Prior DUIs

BAC of more than .15: Between Four-Fifteen Months

Refusal: Fifteen Months

You may be eligible for a Temporary Alcohol License, (TARL) which allows you to drive to drive unrestricted for six months. However, you only have 30 days to request an administrative hearing from the DMV that will temporarily allow you to keep driving until you get this all sorted out.

When you are arrested, the officer typically gives you a suspension form. On the back of the form, there are instructions on how to request an administrative hearing for a fee. Once you (or your lawyer) request the hearing, you can apply for a TARL by paying even more money the DMV. Up until the time of the administrative hearing, the TARL will allow you to drive and the suspension will be held pending the outcome of the administrative hearing.

If you are successful at the administrative hearing, the suspension ends. If you are unsuccessful, the suspension will go back into effect if you obtained a TARL.

Criminal Charges: Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving with Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC)

In Greenville, there are two main ways drivers are charged with being impaired by drugs or alcohol:

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

This might be a shock, but the criminal courts can also suspend your license. A DUI conviction has license implications independent of any DMV suspension mentioned above. If you are found guilty or plead to a DUI, you may be able to apply for a Provisional License--another type of temporary license.

Here's what you typically have to do for that:

1. Had a valid driver's license;
2. Have no other license suspensions (other than this one);
3. Be enrolled in the Alcohol and Drug Safety Program;
4. Have a certificate of SR-22 (extra car insurance which must be maintained for 3 years from the date it is purchased) on file with the DMV; and
5. Pay a fee.

Possible DUI Criminal Penalties

The length of an offender's sentence largely depends on their BAC and any prior DUI convictions on record in the past ten years. For a first time DUI, you're looking at between 48 hours to 90 days in jail, a fine, and a six-month license suspension. For a second DUI, it'll be between 72 hours to one year in jail, a fine and a one- year license suspension. If a third, the court can sentence an offender to between sixty days to five years in jail, a significant fine, and up to a four-year license suspension. The fourth or more within ten years, may result in a felony charge and possible prison time

Ignition Interlock Device

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." It designed to make sure you aren't drinking alcohol and driving. Anytime you attempt to start your car, you must blow into the device. Here's a useful guide to ignition interlock devices.

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. Last but not least, you may want to consider speaking to a Greenville DUI lawyer about your options.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.