The biggest misconception people have regarding DUI charges is that some people think that they are definitely going to jail and that is unusual for a first offense. Instead, what you are going to face are fines and collateral consequences that are going to hurt your future if you receive a conviction. Very few people are actually going to go to jail on a first DUI. I try to get that out of my client’s mind at first, because that can make some people panic. Additionally, a lot of people think that if they blew a certain number on the breathalyzer test, then they should not even bother challenging the charge and that is also not true.
I have certainly represented people receive reduced charges or even people who were acquitted when they had a relatively high number on that breathalyzer test. There are so many different ways to challenge that test. I have had a few people, particularly women, who have been on prescribed substances and the state’s case was based on their impairment on these prescribed substances.
A lot of people think, “I was prescribed the medicine. That means I cannot be charged with DUI.”
However, that is not true. If your ability to drive is materially and appreciably impaired by a prescription medication, then that is still a DUI. Some people do not realize this and they freely tell the officers all of the medications they are taking and then there is probable cause for an arrest.
How Do You Advise Clients That Want To Plead Guilty To DUI Charges?
I tell clients who want to plead guilty to a DUI charge not to do so. I say whatever you do, do not plead guilty. I sit there in Court and helplessly watch unrepresented people plead guilty all the time and what they do not realize is that with a conviction, in addition to the fines and the license suspension, their earning potential is decreased greatly. Many employers will not hire anyone who has a DUI conviction. A lot of graduate schools and colleges won’t accept potential students who have DUIs. I have seen people have trouble getting into the military as well. I spoke to a man who worked for a state agency for ten years and was fired because he had a DUI. There is really no reason to just go and plead guilty just to get it over with.
Any DUI lawyer who actually knows about DUIs (not just any criminal lawyer) is going to be able to get that charge reduced no matter how bad you think it is. At a minimum, they are going to be able to get the charge reduced so that the consequences are not as bad. There are a lot of occupations that could penalize you for having a DUI. Lawyers can get in trouble for having a DUI as well as most healthcare professionals and anyone who has an occupational license of some sort. There are enormous future costs people are not thinking about when they are just trying to save a few bucks and plead guilty.
What Are The Driver’s License Consequences Associated With DUI Charges?
If you are arrested for a DUI, take the breathalyzer test and the result is under 0.15%, then you do not lose your license. You can continue to drive as normal. South Carolina also has a statute that says your insurance company cannot penalize you for just being charged with a DUI. Therefore, at that point, you are in the same position you were in before. If you blow a 0.15% or higher or if you refuse to blow, then the officer most likely will take your license at that time. You then have a very short period of time, thirty days to be exact, to file an appeal and to get your license back. However, it is a temporary license and usually you receive it within a week.
This is why I tell people they need to come see a lawyer immediately. Good DUI Lawyers know how to get that temporary license back faster so that you will be able to drive. Often we get the suspension rescinded. The license suspension for refusing to blow or blowing over .15 or over is a separate administrative action brought by the Department of Motor Vehicles. That is separate from the criminal DUI case. However, because the same parties are involved, we often negotiate a resolution of both cases simultaneously
There is no reason in the world that somebody should not appeal that administrative decision. If they do not appeal it, they are going to end up having to go into the alcohol program (ADSAP) and from what most people tell me, it is a waste of time and money.
If your license is suspended because of a DUI conviction, there are various ways that you can still be able to drive. There is the interlock ignition device that can be an option. You are not required to do it on a DUI first offense. However, you can have the device placed in your car so that you can drive in lieu of being suspended. It is extremely costly and you have to pay the device company but if you need to be able to drive, that is a possibility.
Therefore, there are ways that people can drive with the first DUI conviction, though it does get more complicated with subsequent offenses
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