We are Passionate About Helping Our Clients Fight DUI Charges.
The Goose Creek DUI lawyers at Seaton Law Office routinely represent clients who are charged with DUI in the municipal and magistrate courts in Goose Creek, South Carolina, as well as the surrounding area.
We understand that DUI charges can happen to anyone, including doctors, lawyers, clergy, and everyday working people.
We also understand that South Carolina law enforcement is on a crusade to end drunk driving – which means 1) some innocent people are accused of drunk driving, and 2) the harsh punishments for DUI imposed by the South Carolina legislature don’t always fit the crime.
If you have been accused of driving under the influence in Goose Creek, South Carolina, get an experienced DUI defense lawyer on your case immediately.
Your attorney may be able to get your case dismissed, get your ticket rewritten to a non-DUI traffic offense, or win your case at trial.
Understanding DUI Charges
in South Carolina
What is DUI in South Carolina?
It is not against the law to drink and then drive in South Carolina.
Buzzed driving is not drunk driving, and South Carolina does not have a zero tolerance policy except in cases of minors who are accused of drinking and then driving.
Although the South Carolina Highway Patrol and some advocacy groups have spent ridiculous amounts of money on advertising campaigns to convince potential jurors that it is against the law to drink any amount of alcohol before driving, DUI in South Carolina has a very specific definition.
South Carolina Code Section 56-5-2930 defines “driving under the influence” as:
- While under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or a combination of alcohol and drugs,
- To the extent that your “faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired.”
You can drink alcohol before driving. What you cannot do is drink alcohol to the extent that your “faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired” before driving (regardless of blood alcohol content).
Or, if you are charged with driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC), you cannot drive when your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or greater (regardless of your actual intoxication level).
What is Felony DUI in South Carolina?
“Felony DUI” does not mean “a DUI that is a felony.”
Found in South Carolina Code Section 56-5-2945, felony DUI is a separate criminal offense than DUI and requires proof that the defendant:
- Was driving a motor vehicle,
- While under the influence of alcohol or drugs,
- Committed “any act forbidden by law” or neglected “any duty imposed by law” (they were negligent), and
- Their negligence caused another person’s death or great bodily injury.
If you were driving under the influence, and your negligence causes great bodily injury or death to another person, you can be sentenced to:
- 30 days to 15 years in prison if it resulted in great bodily injury to another person, or
- One year to 25 years in prison if it resulted in someone’s death.
What is DUAC in South Carolina?
DUAC, or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration, has different elements than charges for DUI.
If you are charged with DUI, the state must prove that you were driving while your “faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired,” regardless of your BAC level.
To get a conviction for DUAC, the State must prove that your BAC was .08 or higher, regardless of whether your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired.
What does that mean for your trial, and why don’t police charge DUAC more often?
- You cannot be charged with DUAC if you refused the breathalyzer,
- If you are charged with DUAC and the breathalyzer results are suppressed at trial, the State loses, and
- Both sides may need to bring expert witnesses to trial to explain how the breathalyzer machine operates and why the results were accurate (or not accurate).
The potential jail time, license suspensions, and other consequences for a DUAC conviction are the same as for a DUI conviction except that a DUAC conviction does not show up on your criminal record.
What is a DUI Administrative Hearing/ Implied Consent Hearing?
If you refuse the breathalyzer test, or if you take the breathalyzer test and the result is .15 or greater, your license is immediately suspended under South Carolina’s implied consent laws.
According to South Carolina Code Section 56-5-2950, you “impliedly consented” to take the breathalyzer, urinalysis, or blood tests upon request.
If you have an implied consent suspension, you must immediately request an implied consent hearing:
- You must request the hearing within 30 days,
- Once you request the hearing, you can get a temporary alcohol license (TAL) that allows you to drive until the hearing date,
- If you win the hearing, your license will be returned to you, and
If you lose the hearing, you must enroll in ADSAP and serve out the suspension period.
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– Kipp Cavadias
Great Lawyer, will definitely use again when needed. Thank You Beau!
– Charles McGee
He truly cares about his clients!! A wonderful lawyer!!
– Lamarr Richardson
* The Rules of Professional Conduct require disclosure that this is a “Testimonial” about the attorney. Please be aware that any result achieved on behalf of one client in one matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.
Four (4) Things to Consider If You’re
Facing a DUI Charge in Goose Creek
1. If you are charged with DUI in Goose Creek, South Carolina, you will need help fighting the charges.
Depending on the facts of your case, there may be ways to get your DUI dismissed, but:
- DUI law in South Carolina is complex,
- Courtroom procedure, motions practice, and the rules of evidence are complex, and
- Many prosecutors, police, and judges will brush you off if you do not have an experienced DUI defense lawyer handling your case.
Get an experienced Goose Creek, South Carolina DUI defense lawyer on your case immediately.
Your DUI attorney at the Seaton Law Office will:
- Answer your questions,
- Speak on your behalf to police and prosecutors,
- investigate the allegations,
- Research the law as applied to the facts of your case,
- Work on getting your case dismissed,
- Negotiate a favorable outcome, or
- Try your case to a jury when necessary.
2. A DUI conviction has “hidden consequences” that the police, prosecutors, and court may not tell you about.
A DUI conviction will result in much more than just a fine. If you are convicted, you may be looking at:
- Prison time including mandatory minimum sentences,
- License suspension,
- License revocation,
- ADSAP requirements,
- Ignition interlock device (IID) requirements,
- Substantial fines and court costs,
- SR-22 insurance requirements,
- Loss of your job and difficulty finding employment,
- Immigration consequences, and
- A permanent criminal record for driving drunk that cannot be expunged.
3. There are strict time limits and deadlines in your DUI case.
For example, implied consent violations:
If you have an implied consent suspension, the DMV must receive your administrative hearing request on the original Notice form within 30 days of your arrest.
If you do not request an implied consent hearing within the time limit, you will lose your right to challenge the suspension.
And jury trial requests:
If you are charged with DUI or DUAC first offense in the municipal (city) or magistrate court, you will have an “initial court date” that can be found on your blue ticket.
If you do not appear at this court date (and it is not continued or you do not request a jury trial in writing), you will be convicted in your absence and a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest.
In many cases, your attorney will request a jury trial in writing before your initial court date, and then you may not need to appear in court until your case is scheduled for a roster meeting.
4. A DUI conviction can never be expunged in South Carolina.
Be aware that traffic offenses – including driving under the influence and driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration – cannot be expunged in South Carolina.
If you are convicted of DUI, it will appear on your criminal history for the rest of your life.
Ready To Speak With An Attorney?
Let’s discuss the details of your case and see if we can help.