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How does a DUI affect your driving privileges?

When you have a valid license in South Carolina, you may take for granted how much you rely on it. Your driving privileges let you commute to work, drive to sporting and entertainment events, carry your kids around and go to the store. With all these benefits of a license, losing your privileges could seriously affect your life.

For people who go through the process of a DUI arrest, the ability to drive could be on the line. In South Carolina, punishments can include a suspension or revocation of a driver’s license.  The length and terms of the suspension can depend on the level of the DUI charge.

Implied consent in South Carolina

If you find yourself arrested under suspicion of impaired driving, the police will take you to jail. Once there, the arresting officer will ask you to do either a breath or blood test. If you refuse these, you can lose your license even before the court convicts you.  If you take the test and your BAC level is a .15% or higher, your license can also be suspended.

Like many states, South Carolina has implied consent laws for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests. Just by having a license, drivers automatically agree to let police measure their BAC.  If you refuse the breath or blood test, the DMV will suspend your license for 6 months.  If there is already an alcohol-related charge on your record, the DMV can suspend driving privileges for even longer.  If you take the breath or blood test and your BAC measures at a .15% or higher, then your driver’s license can be suspended for a period of 30 days for a first offense and longer if you already have alcohol related charges on your record.

Losing a license after the conviction

If you are ultimately convicted of either DUI or DUAC, then you will face yet an additional driver’s license suspension. Depending on whether you have any prior DUI convictions, you can face different levels of suspension or revocation for a conviction.

  • A first offense means a suspension of six months.
  • A second offense leads to a suspension of one year.
  • A third offense means a suspension of two years. But if it is within five years of the first offense, courts will suspend it for four years.
  • For a fourth offense, the person loses driving privileges forever.

Whether you have an Implied Consent suspension or a suspension after a conviction, you will be required to enroll in the Alcohol Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP) in order to obtain a valid license.  You may request a hearing to challenge an Implied Consent suspension.  While awaiting a hearing date, you may apply for and drive on a Temporary Alcohol License (TAL) for a set period of time.  If the suspension is upheld, then in some cases, you can get a Route Restricted License which will allow you to drive to and from work or school.  You are only allowed one Route Restricted license in a lifetime.

If you are convicted of DUI or DUAC, your license will be suspended and you will have to enroll in the ADSAP program.  Further, depending on the BAC level or if you refused the breath or alcohol test, you could be forced to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your car.  You would have to blow into this machine each time you wanted to start your vehicle.  You would also have to blow into it periodically while driving the vehicle.  If your breath sample detects alcohol, then your vehicle will not operate.  All of these consequences come at a financial cost to you as well as an inconvenience.

Losing a license can seriously affect your life

As you can see, South Carolina has stiff penalties for those accused of and/or convicted of drunk driving. Even your first conviction can have a severe impact on your ability to get around. If you don’t have a reliable ride to work, you may lose your job.  In South Carolina, the law considers driving a privilege, not a right.  The DMV has the authority to suspend or even revoke your license if you face alcohol related offense while driving.

If you find yourself in any of these predicaments, you may want to speak with an experienced DUI Defense attorney to see if you can reduce or drop the charges against you.  An experienced DUI Defense attorney may also minimize the restrictions on your driving privileges so that you can get back to work.