SC DUI FAQ:
Being arrested for a DUI charge presents numerous challenges and problems, if convicted. When a potential client calls our firm, they usually have similar questions and concerns. Here, we will try to answer some of the most pressing matters our clients face. We hope it will help alleviate some of your anxiety. Of course, for a true assessment of your case and options, we will need to meet and sit down together to review your particular situation. For right now, here are some of the most frequently asked ones we hear in our practice:
A: If you refuse to submit to breath testing or if you have a reported BAC of 0.15% or greater, the arresting officer is supposed to take your license and revoke your driving privileges in South Carolina. If the suspension results from a refusal, the implied consent law provides a six (6) month suspension. If the suspension is because of a 0.15% or greater blood alcohol concentration, the suspension will last one (1) month. The best way to immediately challenge these suspensions is to request an administrative hearing at the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (the DMV). While waiting for this hearing, you may be eligible for a temporary alcohol license (TAL).
A: Under South Carolina law, driving is a privilege, not a right. The South Carolina DMV can suspend a SC driver’s license regardless of the result of the DUI trial. On the criminal side, you have Constitutional rights to a jury trial, and your guilt or innocence will be adjudged in Court. On the administrative or civil side, the DMV and the Implied Consent law determine your privilege to drive. The Implied Consent law provides that if you drive on the roads of the State of South Carolina, you have already given your implied consent to a breath or other form of BAC testing. Although individuals have the right to refuse these tests, the State can punish the refusal by a set suspension of the individual’s driving privilege. The final determination of this privilege generally rests with the DMV, not the Courts.
A: The DMV administrative hearing involved in SC DUI cases is a proceeding where a DMV hearing officer will hear evidence and make a determination whether under the Implied Consent law (and other applicable law) the arresting officer followed the law and whether the individual’s driving privilege should be suspended. There is no jury and no judge. There is no adjudication of guilt or innocence as to the DUI, only whether procedure was adequately followed. On the other hand, in a criminal trial, the subject is guilt or innocence on the criminal offense, the DUI. The State’s prosecutor has the burden of proving to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you operated a motor vehicle while your ability to drive was materially and appreciable impaired by drugs or alcohol.
A: Yes. The DMV hearing and criminal trial are entirely separate matters dealing at least partially with separate issues.
A: Just because you submitted to the breathalyzer and it registered some BAC does not necessarily mean that you need to request an administrative hearing. Your driving privilege will only be revoked if you refused to take the test or if your breath alcohol concentration was .15 or greater. If neither of those conditions are true, your license will not be suspended, and you will have no need to request an administrative hearing.
A: Administrative hearings are requested by completing the back of the “blue form” (DMV Notice of Suspension) and sending $200.00 to the address listed on the form. We recommend sending this form by certified mail. You must also send a money order or certified funds. Personal checks or cash is not accepted. Given the importance of this hearing, we encourage you to hire a DUI lawyer as they will know how to best handle your DMV situation.
A: The DMV is unpredictable on scheduling, and times between request and hearing can vary depending on which county you were arrested. In York County, hearings are generally set within 45-60 days after your request is received. In the meantime, your Temporary Alcohol license (TAL), if you obtained one, is valid until the hearing no matter how long the delay lasts.
A: Requests for hearing must be made within thirty (30) days of your notice of suspension which should have been given to you at the time of your arrest upon being released.
A: You will be sent a notice that you can obtain your temporary Alcohol license. This license will valid until the administrative hearing. At the hearing your suspension may be lifted or upheld. If your suspension is lifted, your ordinary driver’s license will be reinstated. Even if your suspension is lifted, your pending DUI or DUAC charge will not be affected.
A: If your license suspension is upheld, you will have to turn in your temporary alcohol license and serve your suspension. In addition to the suspension, you will be required by the DMV to enroll in what is called an ADSAP (Alcohol Drug Safety Action Program). You must complete the ADSAP class in order to get your license back. And now, you will also have to have an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle for six (6) months.
A: Possibly. You may be entitled to a special driving privilege. The DMV will send you a notice in the mail informing you of what driving privileges you may be entitled to and how to go about getting that license.
A: No. It is not a good idea to get a provisional license until after your DUI is resolved. You are limited to one provisional license per lifetime, so you should probably save it until there are no other options. The Administrative suspension is only part of the battle. In addition to the administrative suspension, if you are convicted of DUI/DUAC, the DMV will suspend your license for another 6 months. At that point you would want to have the chance to use a provisional license.
A: Yes. Even if you win at the DMV, you will still face the pending criminal charges until they are adjudicated in criminal court. As discussed earlier, there are actually two (2) parts to a DUI arrest – the criminal side and the civil, or DMV, side. The good news is that we can help you with both sides of your case.