Criminal Defense Attorney Columbia, South Carolina

How Long Will a DUI Stay on Your Record in South Carolina?

Police officer holding up a breathalyzer during a DUI stop.

A Columbia DUI defense attorney explains how a conviction can follow you

Being convicted of DUI in South Carolina carries serious penalties - some of which can last a lifetime.

That's because a South Carolina driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) conviction cannot be removed from your criminal record. There is no path for expungement that a DUI defense attorney or anyone else can pursue in the state.

Once you've got a DUI, the penalties don't stop at your sentence, which may include driver's license suspension, fines, fees, surcharges, and jail. A DUI on your criminal record can limit your options in life. It can have a negative effect on things like:

  • Obtaining professional licensure
  • Applying for loans
  • Housing
  • Higher education and workforce training programs
  • Career
  • Rights

Who can see your criminal record?

Criminal records are a history of someone's interactions with trial courts, correctional facilities, and law enforcement agencies. They are public records of which anyone can obtain a copy. Typically, those who would be interested in seeing your criminal record include potential employers, landlords, loan officers, car rental agencies, college and university representatives, and state license examiners.

Each county has its own standards for record storage and collection. An attorney can help you track yours down and make sure you get complete information. A criminal record, or "rap sheet," often includes information such as:

  • Name and all known aliases
  • Arrest record
  • Warrants, past and present, if any
  • Date of birth
  • Charges, pending and acquitted
  • Fingerprints
  • Mugshots and other related photographs

How a DUI defense lawyer can help

The best way to stop a DUI from ruining lifetime opportunities is to not get one in the first place. But if you do end up facing DUI charges in South Carolina, seeking legal help from an attorney can help you achieve the best possible result in your case:

  • Dismissal of charges. Many DUI charges are dismissed before making it to trial. Oftentimes, a DUI defense attorney can get evidence thrown out by proving illegal search and seizure or discrediting the results of faulty BAC-testing equipment and methods.
  • Reduced charges. About half of all DUI charges in Richland County are reduced to lesser charges, according to a MADD study. An attorney can file and negotiate with prosecutors for a lesser charge like reckless driving.
  • Trial tactics. South Carolina is one of only two states that will allow a police officer to act as prosecutor in a DUI case. Your DUI defense attorney can plan a strategy to defend you based on whether they will square off with the DA or police.
  • Appeal. When things don't go your way at trial, it may be wise for your attorney to file an appeal. For the most part, the state appellate court will process appeals of criminal conviction or sentence. Appeals assert that a serious error was committed during trial. The error was so critical that the case must be remanded to the trial court or the conviction or sentence be vacated or reversed.

Schedule a free consultation today

There are many people grappling with DUI charges right now. South Carolina is among the states with the highest fatal drunk driving rates with 7.6 such crashes per 100,000 people, according to

If you are facing DUI charges in the greater Columbia area, contact Matt Bodman, P.A. for a free consultation. A member of our team can answer your questions and give you a clear understanding of your legal rights and options. To find out how we can help you, contact us today.

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South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense LawyersSouth Carolina Association of Criminal Defense LawyersSouth Carolina BarSouth Carolina BarSouth Carolina Association for JusticeSouth Carolina Association for JusticeRichland County Bar AssociationRichland County Bar Association2020 Legal Elite of the Midlands2020 Legal Elite of the Midlands