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South Carolina Cannabis DUI Laws and Punishments

What does a cannabis DUI arrest mean in South Carolina? As with every other state, including those that have legalized cannabis in one form or another, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis is prohibited in South Carolina. Those cannabis DUI charges can bring severe penalties, fines, and collateral consequences upon conviction. In every case, anyone arrested for cannabis DUI in South Carolina should seek an experienced defense attorney for a strong defense.

What Does a Cannabis DUI Arrest Mean in South Carolina?

South Carolina has tough punishments for cannabis DUI. Although this is a relatively new target of enforcement, cannabis DUI charges have a firm basis in South Carolina’s impairment statute that prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

If you are arrested for cannabis DUI, it means that a law enforcement officer believes that you are under the influence and have been operating a vehicle. For an arrest to be valid, the officer must point out specific clues of your impairment, such as:

  • The odor of burnt or burning marijuana in the car
  • The presence of marijuana or paraphernalia in the vehicle
  • Signs of impairment typical with marijuana use.

Officers can also make a marijuana DUI arrest after a flat-out admission of use while driving. In many cases, law enforcement is simply on a fishing expedition when first confronting a driver they have pulled over. Without a confession, officers in many cases would have no cause to effectuate an arrest.

Whalen Montalvo fights to protect your freedom and your future from the moment we take your case.

Is a Cannabis DUI Charge the Same as Drunk Driving?

Understanding the Differences

In many respects, cannabis DUIs are the same as drunk-driving DUIs in South Carolina. However, the evidence-of-impairment requirement is different. Drunk-driving cases use breathalyzers often, but the police do not use them in marijuana DUI cases. Instead, urine and sometimes blood tests are used.

The problem with urine tests is that they reveal the presence of inactive marijuana metabolites for up to 30 days or more. In other words, a defendant could be completely free of the psychoactive effects of marijuana they consumed two weeks earlier and still test positive for the metabolite.

The job of the defense attorney in these cases involves attacking the validity or authenticity of these tests using expert witnesses. The prosecution also frequently uses expert witnesses.

Issues With Implied Consent

Keep in mind that South Carolina is an implied-consent state. Implied consent refers to DUI detection tests and holds that all drivers on South Carolina roads are considered to have consented to a urine, breath, or blood test. Failure to consent is a separate charge from cannabis DUI. Additionally, drivers who refuse to consent to a test will have their driver’s license automatically suspended for at least 90 days.

If you have been charged with cannabis DUI in South Carolina, don’t delay in contacting the cannabis DUI defense team at Whalen Montalvo. We aggressively defend our clients from the moment we take their case. Call our office at (864) 770-7710 for a case review today.

Cannabis DUI Punishments

As mentioned, South Carolina has tough punishments for Cannabis DUI. First-time offenders are punished less harshly than repeat offenders. However, they still face serious consequences.

First Offense

A first-time cannabis DUI conviction results in potential fines, time behind bars, community service, and participation in an alcohol and drug safety program. Jail time may be as long as 30 days or as little as 48 hours, and fines top out at $400.

Second Offense

For a second cannabis DUI offense, a minimum fine of $2,100 is levied with a maximum of $5,100. Imprisonment of up to a year is called for, with a mandatory minimum of five days in place.

Third Offense

A third offense brings fines ranging between $3,800 and $6,300. The mandatory minimum time incarcerated increases to 60 days and may be as long as three years.

Fourth Offense and Beyond

A fourth offense of cannabis DUI involves significant jail time ranging between one and five years. Convicted offenders must pay significant fines as well.

Collateral Consequences

The collateral consequences of a cannabis DUI are life-altering and affect a person’s financial and personal life. In addition to the criminal penalties, a conviction for cannabis DUI can result in:

  • License suspension
  • Criminal record
  • Job loss
  • Loss of civil rights
  • Impact on family law matters
  • Impact on housing.

Cannabis DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the crash and the number of prior offenses. Regardless, having either on your record can lead to significant setbacks in many areas of your life.

For this reason, it is essential for you to retain counsel immediately after being arrested for cannabis DUI. The sooner your defense attorney gets to work on your case, the more time they will have to prepare an effective defense.

Speak With a Cannabis DUI Lawyer Today

Protect Your Future

A cannabis DUI conviction can cause all sorts of trouble in your life. If you’ve been charged, it is important to contact a cannabis DUI lawyer as soon as possible to begin working on your criminal defense.

Call Whalen Montalvo at (864) 770-7710 for a consultation and to get started on your defense. You deserve to have a robust defense against the charges you are facing.

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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Get the best legal representation possible. Give the Greenville, SC attorneys at Whalen Montalvo a call today at (864) 770-7710 or use our online form.