South Carolina’s penalty statute is based on the level of alcohol from the breath or blood test. That is one of the reasons that I tell people not to take those tests. If you do not take the test, then your penalty is going to be the lowest level. If you take the test and you blow really high, then the fines and potential jail time go up along with the BAC level. Again, the only aggravating factor there is involved the blood alcohol level, and that is another good reason not to blow. If you don’t blow or give a blood sample, then you do not have the aggravating factor.
The other aggravating circumstance would be a felony DUI where there is an injury or a death involved. That is really a whole different ballgame. With those charges and situation, you are looking at 15 to 25 years in prison.
There is, also, a separate charge of endangerment of a child. This is where people have a minor in the car and are charged with a DUI. This is a very serious offense that will not be good for your record when you go and try to volunteer at your children’s school, for example.
Are There Any Alternative Programs Available For First Time DUI Offenders?
In terms of pre-trial, you are not allowed to do any pre-trial intervention for a DUI in South Carolina. The state does not really have any great alternatives in place. People take DUI charges very seriously. Someone can be arrested for burglary and get a pre-trial intervention. However, there is not the same benefit with a DUI. The laws are changing all the time though. You never know what is going to happen. That is why we try to, at a minimum, make it so that you can plead to a traffic offense such as reckless driving versus a DUI. A traffic offense is going to be on your driving record and not on your criminal record.
Are Most People Surprised If They Are Arrested For A Prescription Medication DUI?
I have had some cases where people do not realize that many prescription drugs can impair your ability to drive. People are not aware that the government will try to get a DUI conviction based on the use of almost any prescription drug. They will note that almost every prescription bottle says to use caution before driving. If everyone minded that, of course nobody would be able to drive. The government has to prove that the drug actually materially and appreciably impaired your ability to drive. Many prescription drugs have no real effect on driving. However, people have bad reactions to a drug they are not used to taking and this can result in a DUI charge. Do not ever tell law enforcement what drugs you are taking. It will be used against you.
Do You Recommend Counseling Or AA Meetings For Your Clients?
Counseling and attending AA meetings can potentially hurt someone’s case. The only reason I would recommend alcohol counseling is if it is obvious that they have a serious drinking problem that needed to be addressed immediately. We would try to keep that as confidential as possible, but in general, that is not going to help a case.
What Sets Your Firm Apart In Handling DUI Cases?
What sets Cleary Law LLC apart in handling DUI cases is the fact that I belong to the National College of DUI Defense, Inc. which gives me tremendous resources for defending cases. I am a graduate of their 2015 Summer Session, where got hands on training in DUI defense. NCDD has a vast database where you can pull out articles on anything you can imagine; any sort of drug interaction or ways to challenge the breathalyzer tests. Additionally, I have contacts all over the country, so we can find out what are the effects going to be in another state. We can contact one another and say “What is this charge going to be in your state?” We also have a list where you can post questions if anything unusual comes into play.
Moreover, what sets our firm apart is just simply the fact that I have taken the time to study the nuances of DUI cases as they are totally different than any other criminal case. There are specific statutes or specific protections required that you just frankly do not have in other criminal cases.
I also give my clients personalized attention. I am not going to leave them alone when we go to court. I am going to sit there and explain what is going on every step of the way. I have figured out after all these years that most people have never been to court. I like to chat with the cops and the attorneys because for me it is like a social event, but I recognize that my clients are usually petrified. I have figured that out that they literally need you to sit there with them and explain what is going on.
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