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A Brief Guide to Administrative License Revocation and Judicial Procedures After a DUI

A DUI arrest comes with serious penalties in any state, but South Carolina takes a two-pronged approach. If you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in South Carolina, whether the arrest is related to drug or alcohol consumption or both, you will go through two separate channels: an administrative process and a judicial process. Each of these procedures comes with its own set of independent rules and penalties for the crime of DUI.
Defining DUI and “Implied Consent” in SC
Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is used to determine whether you have consumed too much alcohol to drive safely. South Carolina law defines DUI as driving a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, or 0.02% or higher if you are under 21. You can still be charged with DUI or a similar offense if your BAC is under the legal limit, depending on the facts of your case.
Some states have implied consent laws, which basically mean that you automatically agree to chemical BAC tests under certain circumstances. In South Carolina, the law assumes your consent to a chemical test when a law enforcement official asks you to take one. In other words, you can also face administrative and criminal penalties for refusing a chemical test.
Preparing for an Administrative Hearing
If you were charged with DUI by failing a chemical test or refusing it altogether, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will send you a notice for an administrative hearing within 30 days of the hearing date.
The hearing will aim to establish whether you should receive a driver’s license suspension, among other possible penalties. You will have a chance to contest the suspension and explain why you should be allowed to keep your license. If you don’t contest the suspension, or if the hearing does not go in your favor, your license may be suspended for a minimum of 6 months.
Your administrative or civil penalties may include:

  • A driver’s license suspension for 6 months or indefinitely
  • An alcohol and drug education course
  • An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installation
  • Associated fees, like the $100 license reinstatement fee
  • A requirement to carry SR22 insurance for at least 3 years after your suspension is over

The number and severity of your penalties will depend on factors like your past DUI offenses, your BAC level, and whether you were involved in an accident causing “great bodily injury or death.”
Understanding Judicial Procedures
Aside from the administrative process, a DUI charge will also lead to a completely separate judicial or criminal process. The judicial procedures involve going through the court process with a prosecutor.
The judicial procedures follow this general pattern:

  • You will appear in court and plead guilty or not guilty.
  • If you plead “not guilty,” you can choose a trial by jury or a bench trial, which lets a judge decide your case instead.
  • The court may schedule a pre-trial hearing, where your attorney can file motions or negotiate with the prosecutor for a fair resolution.
  • Your trial will begin with motions, jury selection, and opening statements from both sides.
  • The prosecutor will then present any evidence the state has against you, which may include witnesses, video footage, and your BAC test results. Your lawyer will then be able to cross-examine witnesses and call the witnesses for your side. You may also testify if you wish.
  • At the end of your trial, both sides will make closing arguments and the judge will give instructions to the jury. Then you’ll wait for the jury’s decision.

Your attorney will tell you more about how you should plead, whether you should negotiate for a better sentence, whether you should testify, and more.
If you are found not guilty, you’ll be free to go, but if you are found guilty, you will be convicted of DUI and sentenced accordingly. Your penalties could include jail time, fines and court costs, license suspension, enrollment in the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program, community service, the need for SR22 insurance, and IID installation.
Finding Strong Legal Counsel
Remember that you can potentially receive penalties from both the administrative and the judicial side of your DUI arrest. If you’ve been charged with DUI, you don’t have to go through this process alone. The Greg McCollum Complete Legal Defense Team has extensive experience providing assertive DUI defense in the state of South Carolina. Call us today for zealous representation on your case.

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