DUI convictions are serious offenses. Hundreds of Americans lose their lives or get hurt in car accidents every year. In addition to vehicle defects, overspeeding, and distracted drivers, a significant number of accidents are caused by individuals driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019, over 10,000 people were killed in drunk driving accidents.
In this article, we will explore the definition of DUI and what the penalty is for first-time offenders. If you’ve been involved in an Orangeburg DUI accident, the first thing you need to do is get in touch with an experienced DUI lawyer. This would ensure that you get the best guidance as you navigate what must be a nerve-wracking period.
What Is DUI?
Driving under the influence (DUI) refers to operating a motor vehicle while one’s blood alcohol content is above the legal limit set by statute. While there are different limits in each state, the range is from .08% to .10% in adults. Although DUI convictions are often interpreted as driving under the influence of alcohol, it could also be driving under the influence of drugs. These drugs could be over-the-counter medication, or they could be illegal substances.
Before a police officer stops someone on suspicion of driving under the influence, they must have been watching the person’s driving pattern. After the person has been pulled over, the police officer watches the individual to determine if they display any intoxication signs before DUI convictions can be considered.
If they do, they will be required to take a field sobriety test. In most cases, you can refuse to take this test. However, if a driver refuses to take the test, the police officer may charge and arrest them. If this happens, they will be required to take a chemical breath test.
Taking a chemical breath test is important, but a person can decide not to do so. In this case, it is the police officer’s responsibility to make the person aware of their right. Refusing to take a chemical breath test could result in a suspension of the person’s driving license for up to six months.
What Are the Penalties for First-Time DUI Convictions?
Driving under the influence in South Carolina carries serious consequences. Driving under the influence, in this case, would mean driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.8% or higher. This is different for anyone under the age of 21. Under South Carolina law, anyone under 21 cannot drive a vehicle if they have a blood alcohol content higher than 0.02%. If apprehended, such a person faces an automatic suspension of their license for up to 6 months.
The penalty for first-time DUI convictions can range from jail time to fines and even the suspension of the individual’s drivers license. A first-time DUI offender would often face a jail term of 48 hours to 30 days. However, if the person had a blood alcohol content between .10% and .16%, the minimum jail time is increased from 48 hours to seven days. Not all first-time DUI offenders would face jail time. Some judges will substitute jail time for community service for most first-time offenders.
In addition to jail time, first-time DUI offenders would pay a fine of $400, with the fine increasing depending on the level of alcohol in their system. Therefore, a person with a blood alcohol content between .10% and .16% would pay a $500 fine, while drivers with a blood alcohol content greater than .16% will pay a $1,000 fine.
Anyone convicted of a DUI is expected to go through the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. The Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program is a substance abuse intervention program geared at improving road safety. Joining the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program makes people eligible for provisional licenses.
First-time DUI offenders would also have their drivers’ license suspended. Note that drivers who refused to be tested or had a blood alcohol content greater than .15% are not eligible for provisional licenses.
How Orangeburg DUI Lawyers Can Help You
DUI laws can often be complicated, and most people have difficulty understanding how it affects them. Some people make the mistake of trying to make a DUI charge go away without the help of an experienced lawyer. Often they end up with the same problems they were trying to avoid.
DUI charges can have a significant impact on your life. You could find yourself paying high fines or facing time in prison. As a result, consulting a DUI lawyer is a great idea. Our lawyers at Orangeburg DUI have a lot of experience in DUI cases. So, contact us today to learn how we can help you.