Penalties for a First DUI Offense

Many potential clients arrive for their free case review with an Orangeburg DUI lawyer with the impression that they needn’t worry too much. After all, it’s their first DUI offense and they have a clean driving record otherwise.

At this point, the attorney has to impress on the client the seriousness of their situation. The fact is that our state has a very tough stance on drunk driving. And the penalties can be harsh even for first-time offenders. Let us explain what they may involve.

What Is the Legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Level?

First of all, you need to know that South Carolina law prohibits driving with a BAC level of 0.08 or higher. However, you may still get charged with a DWI offense (driving while impaired) even if your BAC value is below this value.

The thing that matters is the police officer’s opinion that your driving was erratic and appeared to be impaired. A skilled lawyer may be able to get this charge dismissed. However, things get more complicated if you exceed the maximum BAC level.

The penalties you may receive at the end of the case are:

Potential Jail Time

A first DUI offense carries a jail penalty between 48 hours and 30 days. However, if your BAC level is above 0.16, this period increases to 30 to 90 days.

In some cases, the judge may allow you to perform community service instead of spending time in jail. Depending on the BAC level, the community service period is between 72 hours and 30 days.

Fines and Court Fees

Besides possible jail time, a first-time DUI sentence will include fines, structured depending on your BAC level:

  • Between 0.08 and 0.10 – $400
  • Between 0.10 and 0.16 – $500
  • 0.16 or more – $1,000.

You will also have to pay all court fees generated by your DUI case.

there is no lenience for first time DUI offenders

Ignition Interlock Device

Even if it is your first DUI offense, if you are charged the court may order you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your car when you regain your driving privileges. Your Orangeburg DUI attorney will explain in detail the rules you must obey if you are given this sentence.

Usually, South Carolina judges order the IID if your BAC level is above 0.15.

Enrolment in a Substance Abuse Program

As part of the sentencing, you may also have to attend a state-approved substance abuse education program. You will have to pay the cost of the program and make sure that you do not miss any sessions.

Driver’s License Suspension

Finally, your driver’s license will be suspended automatically as soon as the police officer charges you with a DUI. You may challenge this suspension within 30 by applying for an administrative hearing.

The hearing may reinstate your license while your court case is pending. However, once you are sentenced for DUI, you must surrender your license. In this case, the suspension will last for 6 months.

Once you are eligible to get it back, you will have to pay a $100 reinstatement fee and file proof of having an SR-22 insurance policy.

Consult with an Experienced Orangeburg DUI Lawyer!

You should not underestimate the negative consequences of a first DUI offense in South Carolina. It will cost you both financially and in terms of reputation, career, and other missed opportunities, as well as having to spend time in jail.

This is why you should get in touch with an Orangeburg DUI lawyer as soon as possible after being charged. We offer each new client a free case evaluation, so take advantage of it to start building your defense. Call us today at 803-353-1969!