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5 Tips for if You get a DUI

Did you get a DUI while driving in South Carolina? You’re in the company of almost 16,000 other drivers annually. Getting slapped with a DUI is no fun. In addition to having your license suspended, you might be looking at monetary fines, weeks of classes, and of course the humiliation and/or the potential inconvenience (in some cases) of being locked up for anywhere from 48 hours to 30 days. Second offenses carry even steeper fines and penalties, in addition to necessitating the installation of an interlock device on your car. The good news is there are steps you can proactively take to mitigate this pain.


The first tip is to remember that you have constitutional rights that you can leverage to protect yourself at the time of an arrest. Unfortunately this tip might not be applicable by the time you read this article. But if you are reading this article before getting pulled over, know that you are not required to take field sobriety tests like reciting the alphabet backwards or following a pen with your eyes. In most cases, the arresting officer will use them against you later in court to corroborate the story that you were legally intoxicated. This refusal may lead to an arrest, but in most cases, you would be arrested anyway, so don’t give the prosecution more material to add to their case against you. You can request that an independent party conducts a blood test. This is a right that many drivers are unaware of. 


Your second tip, if you were already arrested and then released, should be to contact an attorney familiar with DUIs in South Carolina. In the Palmetto State, drivers facing a potential DUI charge where they refused a breathalyzer or blood test have the opportunity to first appear before an Administrative Law Judge, before their case goes to criminal court. This is your chance to (perhaps) end some of the punitive chain of events that follow, if possible. If not, an attorney working with you can present a more convincing case on your behalf and position you for more lenient sentencing, especially if your case does go to court.


Next tip: pay your fines in a timely manner. If you don’t, they may end up increasing through additional penalties and interest. If you are unable to make payments in their entirety, explore the option of payment plans.


If you’ve been slapped with a DUI conviction you will be required to attend programming that is part of the South Carolina Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. Classes are offered by certified providers. Ask your attorney for a recommendation of the best one in your area and enroll immediately, because failure to do so for more than 30 days can put you in contempt of court.


Your final tip is to rethink your choices moving forward. You do not want to become a repeat customer when it comes to DUIs in South Carolina. A third DUI offense within ten years can result in up to $10,000 in fines and even five years in jail. Remember that you got a DUI charge because a breath, blood, or urine test suggested that you had consumed an amount of alcohol beyond a safe threshold for driving. Moving forward, explore strategies like going out with a designated driver, or perhaps other circumstantial concerns that might be leading you to engage in reckless behavior, and seek professional help accordingly. A South Carolina DUI attorney at Whalen Montalvo can also help you strategize for dealing with the fallout of your DUI into the next decade, since it may hinder your ability to obtain credit, decent insurance rates, or employment. 

James M. Whalen

I grew up right here in Greenville, South Carolina. Following highschool, I attended Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, where I was an NCAA Scholar-Athlete for the Rhodes Lynx soccer program.

I completed my law degree at University of South Carolina School of Law, where I was on the mock trial team and an editor for the Journal of Law and Education. Following graduation, I served as a judicial law clerk for Senior Judge Robert H. Hodges, Jr. on the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. My experience in D.C. trial courts solidified my desire to become a trial lawyer.
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