If you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, it will be essential to separate myth from reality. There are many DUI myths out there, and if you rely on insufficient information, you could make poor decisions that negatively impact your life for years.
So, what do you need to know if facing a DUI charge in South Carolina? Here is the truth behind seven common myths about dealing with the consequences of a drunk driving arrest:
Myth #1: A DUI Isn’t a Serious Crime
Since a DUI is many people’s first introduction to the criminal justice system, these cases aren’t heavily punished. Sometimes, a DUI is treated as a traffic violation rather than a criminal offense.
Truth: In South Carolina, DUI is a severe crime.
In South Carolina, DUI is a criminal offense that carries the potential for fines, a driver’s license suspension, and various other penalties. While some states classify certain DUI offenses as traffic violations, South Carolina law classifies all DUIs as crimes. Most DUI charges are misdemeanors; however, prosecutors can pursue felony DUI charges in some cases.
Myth #2: You Won’t Go to Jail as a First-Time DUI Offender
If you get convicted of DUI, you might face fines and other penalties, but you won’t go to jail. Since jail time isn’t on the table, handling your DUI case alone is okay.
Truth: All DUI charges carry potential jail time under South Carolina law.
In South Carolina, first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.080% to 0.099% face a minimum of 48 hours of jail time. However, first-time offenders can also be sentenced to up to 30 days. While community service may be available as an alternative to jail time in some cases, DUI defendants must know how to seek community service effectively.
Myth #3: Prosecutors Won’t Be Able to Convict You if They Don’t Have Your BAC
Prosecutors need your BAC to secure a conviction. If you refused the breath test, or if you can argue that your test result is unreliable, this is enough to avoid a DUI conviction.
Truth: Your BAC is just one of numerous forms of evidence prosecutors can use to prove drunk driving.
Prosecutors don’t need your BAC to secure a conviction. While a high BAC reading can be strong evidence of guilt, it is just one of several types of evidence that may be available. Additionally, suppose prosecutors don’t have your BAC because you refused the breath test. In that case, you can be charged with an “implied consent” violation regardless of whether you were drunk, and prosecutors can also use your refusal against you in your DUI case.
Myth #4: If Prosecutors Have Your BAC, You Might As Well Plead Guilty
If you took a breath test and blew above the legal limit, you might as sufficiently plead guilty. If prosecutors have your BAC, you can do nothing to avoid a conviction.
Truth: Even if prosecutors have your BAC, you may still have several options for fighting your DUI.
A high BAC does not guarantee a guilty verdict. There are several ways to dispute the reliability of your BAC reading and potentially to keep your BAC reading out of court. When you hire an experienced DUI defense lawyer, your lawyer will examine all options for dealing with your high BAC reading, from showing that the breathalyzer device wasn’t recently calibrated to arguing that all of the prosecution’s evidence is inadmissible because your traffic stop or arrest violated your Fourth Amendment rights.
Myth #5: You Can’t Get a Plea Deal in a DUI Case
In DUI cases, negotiating a plea deal isn’t an option. You will need to fight your DUI charge in court, and, if you aren’t successful, you will get convicted.
Truth: In South Carolina, it is possible to negotiate a plea deal in a DUI case.
While this is true in some states, it isn’t true in South Carolina. Prosecutors will consider plea deals in appropriate cases. If it makes sense to negotiate a plea in your case, your defense lawyer can argue for a reduced charge that mitigates the consequences of your drunk driving arrest.
Myth #6: Once You Serve Your Sentence, You Will Be Able to Move On with Your Life
While getting convicted of DUI isn’t ideal, once you serve your sentence, you can move on with your life. Your DUI will be in the past, and you will be able to forget that it ever happened.
Truth: A DUI conviction can negatively impact your life long after you serve your criminal sentence.
A South Carolina DUI conviction stays on your record after you serve your sentence. This means that it will show up in background checks when you apply to school, apply for a job, apply for a loan, and apply for housing. As a result, a DUI conviction can truly impact all aspects of your life.
Myth #7: You Don’t Need a Defense Lawyer to Represent You
Given the cost of hiring a defense lawyer, you might as well handle your DUI case alone. The legal fees aren’t worth it, and the judge will go easy on you if you aren’t represented.
Truth: Handling a DUI case alone can be far more costly than hiring a defense lawyer.
When facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, an experienced defense lawyer can help you in numerous ways. If your lawyer can help you negotiate a plea deal or avoid a conviction, your legal fees will pay for themselves multiple times.
Discuss Your Case with a DUI Defense Lawyer in Rock Hill, SC
If you need to know more about facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, we encourage you to contact us promptly. For a free and confidential consultation with an experienced DUI defense lawyer in Rock Hill, call 803-328-8822 or request an appointment online today.