5 Truths and Myths About DUIs in SC
You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.
And you can’t believe everything your friends tell you about DUIs.
The facts and circumstances surrounding individual DUI cases in SC can be very different. It’s these differences that affect the outcome.
Unfortunately, many people have misconceptions about DUIs, and it’s easy to see why.
Like our tax laws, DUI laws in SC are complicated. Not to mention, the consequences that convictions carry can be very serious.
Before you decide what to do about your DUI case, it’s important to get the facts. That’s why I’m going to debunk five of the most common myths about DUIs for you.
5 Common Misconceptions and the Hard Facts about DUIs
1. MYTH = If I refuse to take a breathalyzer test when pulled over for DUI, they can’t charge me with DUI.
TRUTH = In South Carolina, if you refuse a breathalyzer, you agree to the punishment for doing so. There are many times when you should refuse to blow, but you do need to know that refusing means losing your license–at least temporarily. You may get hit with fines, jail time or community service, too.
2. MYTH = I shouldn’t fight a DUI because it isn’t a big deal. I should just plead guilty, and get it over with.
TRUTH = First of all, DUIs are a very big deal. You should never just plead guilty to put the DUI behind you. The consequences of a DUI conviction can take years to overcome. Sure, the fine may be something you could pay quickly, but the impact of losing your license, spending time in jail, and potentially losing your job (and having difficulty finding a new one) can be much more costly than fighting your DUI.
3. MYTH = I don’t have to worry about the consequences of pleading guilty to DUI. I’ll get it expunged later.
TRUTH = This myth is wrong for a few reasons. First (and I can’t stress this enough), the consequences of a DUI are serious. You can be sentenced with jail time, be ordered to pay a fine, lose your driver’s license, lose your job, and be forced to put an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle.
Here’s what your life will be like with an ignition interlock device installed in your car:
- To crank your car, you must blow into the device
- To keep your car running, every so often, you must blow into the device
- You’ll pay a monthly fee for the device
In addition, every time you blow your BAC is recorded and the log is checked by officials. If your BAC is tested by the device and it’s higher than the programmed limit, your car will not start and that too is recorded in the device’s log. There are consequences, such as additional time you must have the IID on your car, when this happens.
The consequences of violating the IID law (i.e. blowing into the device when your BAC is too high) are based on a point system. Once you accumulate a set amount of points, negative results are coming your way.
Here is what this point system looks like:
- You earn ½ a point if you blow into the device and your BAC is between 0.02% and 0.04%.
- You earn 1 point if you blow into the device and your BAC is between 0.04% and 0.15%.
- You earn 2 points if you blow into the device and your BAC is over 0.15%.
- You earn 1 point if you don’t have the device inspected by a certified individual every 60 days.
- You earn 1 point if you don’t do a “running re-test” that is required by the law.
The penalties associated with this point system look like this:
- If you receive between 2-3 points, the period of time you are required to have the IID is extended by 2 months.
- If you receive between 3-4 points, the period of time you are required to have the IID is extended by 4 months. You also have to be evaluated for substance abuse and participate in a treatment or education program if it is recommended at your evaluation.
- If you receive more than 4 points, your license is suspended for 6 months. You also have to be evaluated for substance abuse and participate in a treatment or education program if it is recommended at your evaluation.
It is important to note that you can appeal penalties given to you under the point system above.
Second, South Carolina expungement laws DO NOT allow a DUI conviction to be removed from your criminal record. In fact, DUI arrests can’t even be removed in most cases. Even if your charge is dismissed or the solicitor chooses not to prosecute, DUI arrests stay on your criminal record for life.
Currently, state expungement laws are being reconsidered, but you can’t rely on this. Even if the laws change, there’s no guarantee the laws will allow old arrests and convictions to be expunged.
4. MYTH = I don’t need a lawyer to handle a DUI. It’s cheaper to just pay the fine and plead guilty than to hire an attorney.
TRUTH = Actually, you do need an attorney. The real issue isn’t the difference in cost between a fine and a DUI lawyer. In most cases, the other negative effects of having a DUI conviction on your record greatly outweigh the added cost of hiring an attorney to handle your case. It’s true, the fine may be cheaper than hiring an attorney, but if you choose to plead guilty, there is no chance that your DUI may be dismissed or not prosecuted.
The cost of the fine and an attorney shouldn’t be the only expenses you are concerned with. You should also consider the increase that will occur in your car insurance as an added expense if you plead guilty.
Many people charged with DUI opt to hire an attorney to fight for them. Police can make mistakes; evidence can be mishandled. Countless things can go wrong for the prosecution that can directly benefit you in your fight against the charges.
5. MYTH = The police officer who arrested me didn’t read me my Miranda Rights. My case has to be completely thrown out because of it.
TRUTH = Miranda warnings are only required to be read during “custodial interrogation.” This means questioning after you’ve been arrested. If the police fail to read you your Miranda rights, your responses to their questions can not be used by the prosecution in court.
In some cases, the failure to read Miranda rights can get evidence thrown out, but not the entire case–unless the only piece of evidence the prosecution has against you is the evidence that is being thrown out. Your statement might get tossed from the case, but other evidence like your breathalyzer test results, witness statements, and any property damage you may have caused will likely stay in the case.
Ready to discuss your DUI case?
If you’ve been arrested for DUI, you need an attorney immediately. I’ve helped many people with their DUI cases, and I’d like to help you, too. Give me a call at 803-779-4472, and we can discuss how to proceed with your case.
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Contact Lori Murray to discuss your situation.
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