Aiken County DUI Lawyer

Law enforcement officials in Aiken County are getting increasingly strict when it comes to drivers suspected of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even a first-time offender can be sentenced to up to 30 days of imprisonment and license suspensions and a criminal record can cause even greater difficulties going forward.

But just because someone is charged with a DUI offense does not mean that they will be found guilty of that offense. A professional criminal attorney can help you fight the charges. An Aiken County DUI lawyer can help you apply for a provisional license if necessary, and advise you of the best steps to take to minimize the consequences.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence

Those found to be driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with an unlawful blood alcohol concentration face penalties that vary depending on the circumstances and the existence of any prior DUI offenses. Both the penalties and definitions of the offenses are described in §§56-5-2930 and 2933 of the South Carolina Code. First-time offenders will usually be fined $400 or face a term of imprisonment ranging from two to 30 days. The court may assign community service in lieu of incarceration but generally may not suspend a fine.

Penalties increase substantially for a second offense. Fines will be assessed in an amount between $2,100 and $5,100 and individuals facing a second offense also face imprisonment for a minimum of five days and a maximum of one year. Fines and sentences are enhanced for subsequent offenses and they also increase in situations where the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is above .10 percent, increasing if the BAC is .16 percent or higher.

For example, if a driver is convicted of a fourth DUI offense and has a BAC between .10 and .16, that driver faces two to six years in prison. But if that driver has a BAC of .16 or higher, the sentence increases to three to seven years of imprisonment.

In addition, all those convicted, whether for a first or subsequent offense, will have their licenses suspended, often for an indefinite duration. They must complete a certified Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program which includes an assessment and plan of action for education or treatment. All costs for education and treatment must be paid for the driver, which can add thousands of dollars to the overall cost of the conviction. For more information, get in contact with an Aiken County DUI lawyer.

Different DUI Violations in Aiken County

South Carolina laws contain both a “per se” violation and a traditional DUI violation. Section 56-5-2930 makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both to such an extent that the alcohol or drugs “materially and appreciably” impair the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle.

Section 56-5-2933 prohibits operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 percent or higher. This is referred to as driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration or DUAC. As noted above, this law provides increasingly severe penalties for those with BAC levels over certain amounts.

However, the law also specifies that the driver’s breath or bodily fluids must be tested within two hours of the time of arrest and that police must have had reasonable suspicion to justify the traffic stop. These and other requirements may be challenged at trial.

Advantages of Working with an Experienced Aiken DUI Attorney

The penalties for a first time DUI offense may not seem high on initial inspection, but there are important factors to consider. First, the hidden costs attached to required classes and assessments can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. Second, if a driver has a prior conviction on their record and they are suspected of serious traffic violations in the future, it is possible to be classified as a habitual traffic offender.

Regardless of whether you are facing a first DUI offense or more serious DUI charges, a skillful Aiken County DUI lawyer can help. There are defenses that can be successfully raised in DUI cases and a seasoned DUI attorney will know which strategy to use in the circumstances of your case to bring about the best possible outcome. Call now for a free consultation to learn how to protect your driving rights.