One of the toughest consequences of a DUI charge in South Carolina is losing your driving privilege. Having your driver's license suspended could affect your ability to get to work and meet other personal and professional commitments. Losing your license for even a short time can put your livelihood in jeopardy, and that can be the start of a downward spiral. The way out of that spiral is to get your license back.
That's one of the reasons it's so important to speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney right away after you're arrested or charged with DUI. Every day that passes puts you in a worse position. With the right legal representation, though, you can navigate the path forward and find a way to salvage the situation.
How DUI license suspensions work in South Carolina
In South Carolina, being arrested for DUI, in and of itself, does not always result in license suspension, but it might, depending on the circumstances.
If you refuse a breathalyzer test, your driver's license will be automatically suspended by the DMV under the state's implied consent law. The length of this license suspension is 6 months for a first offense, with escalating penalties for subsequent refusals. You can also get an implied consent suspension if you take the breathalyzer test and the result is 0.15 or greater.
If you are convicted of DUI, that conviction will also come with a license suspension. Again, the length of suspension is 6 months for a first offense, with escalating penalties for subsequent refusals. This suspension is consecutive, not concurrent, with any previous suspension; for instance, if your license is suspended for refusing a breathalyzer test and then you are convicted of DUI before that suspension has ended, your suspension for the conviction will not start until the previous suspension has ended.
Getting your driving privilege back
There are a few options available to you after a DUI license suspension. If you have an administrative suspension (such as for refusing a test), one option is to contest the suspension in an administrative hearing. Often, the evidence against you will not stand up to a rigorous court hearing in which your interests are represented by an experienced attorney. You can also apply for a temporary alcohol license (TAL) so that you can drive while the results of your hearing are pending.
If your license has been suspended for a conviction, or you lose your administrative hearing, you may be able to apply for a route-restricted license, which allows you to drive to and from work, school, the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP) and/or any court-ordered drug programs. This is obviously still inconvenient, but it makes it possible to hold down a job and keep your life on track during your suspension.
You may also be able to apply for a provisional license after your first DUI offense. A provisional license allows you to drive to work, school, grocery stores, social activities, church, and court-mandated programs. To get a provisional license you need to be enrolled in the ASDAP and carry SR-22 insurance. You may also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle.
Once your suspension is over, you can apply to get your license reinstated. Depending on the circumstances, reinstatement after a DUI conviction may require you to complete the ASDAP, carry SR-22 insurance, and/or install an IID, in addition to paying all applicable reinstatement fees.
Of course, the best option is to avoid being convicted of DUI in the first place. That's why you need an experienced attorney fighting for your rights at every stage of the process.
Contact an experienced South Carolina DUI defense lawyer today
A DUI arrest can quickly start to ripple across your entire life, and you need experienced legal counsel to get the situation under control. That's why you need to make Matt Bodman, P.A. your first call. Attorney Bodman can advise you of your legal options and help you navigate the path forward to protect or restore your driving privilege. Don't go it alone after a DUI arrest. Give us a call today for a free consultation.