Myrtle Beach SC DUI Lawyers
If you have been charged with DUI in Myrtle Beach, SC, your first call should be to your DUI attorney on the Axelrod team at 843-353-3449 for a free consultation to find out what your options are, what defenses your potential defenses are, and how to keep a DUI off your record if possible.
Our DUI defense lawyers have years of experience representing clients charged with DUI-related offenses, getting DUIs dismissed for our clients, and trying DUIs to juries.
SC DUI laws are among the most complex in the state, and your DUI attorney on the Axelrod team keeps up with the changing DUI laws and regularly attends training in DUI defense and trial practice to help you get the best possible resolution in your case.
DUI, DUAC, and Felony DUI in SC
What does the state have to prove to convict a person of a DUI-related offense in SC?
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
SC’s DUI laws can be found at SC Code Section 56-5-2930. The elements that the state must prove to convict a person of DUI are:
You were driving. If the officer did not see you behind the wheel, there must be another witness or substantial circumstantial evidence that can place you behind the wheel.
Some other states have “operating” under the influence statutes that make it a crime to simply sit behind the wheel if the ignition is on or even if you just turn on a radio or the car’s heater. SC’s statute is different – it requires driving, which means you must be behind the wheel while the vehicle is in motion.
You must be intoxicated while driving. Intoxication refers to any type of drug, alcohol, or combination of drugs and alcohol – liquor, beer, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, prescription medications taken as recommended, or sleep medicine, it doesn’t matter.
Your level of intoxication does matter, however.
Your “faculties to drive a motor vehicle” must be “materially and appreciably impaired.” “Zero tolerance” is not the law in SC, and “buzzed driving” is not drunk driving – these are both incorrect and misleading statements of the law in SC that you may see in SCHP commercials or on billboards.
Also, it is not illegal to drink and drive in SC. It is illegal to drink and drive when your faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired.
What does that mean? If jurors hear that you took the breathalyzer and the result was .08 or greater, the judge will instruct them that there is an “inference” that you were DUI based on the Datamaster result. They won’t automatically find you guilty, though – you can still present evidence to show that you were not intoxicated to the extent that your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired.
The officer or prosecutor will also present other evidence of intoxication, including the officer’s or other witness’ observations, the officer’s testimony about any roadside field sobriety tests that were given, and any videos of your performance on the roadside and in the Datamaster room.
Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC)
DUAC is SC’s “per se” DUI law.
SC Code Section 56-5-2933 says that it is a crime “to drive a motor vehicle within this State [with an] alcohol concentration is eight one-hundredths of one percent or more.” This means that 1) there must be a breathalzyer, urinalysis, or blood test result, and 2) the state only has to prove that the result was .08 or greater, although you can still present evidence to show that you were not intoxicated or that the test results were inaccurate.
Felony DUI in SC
What is a felony DUI in SC?
Felony DUI is when there is an accident while someone is driving while intoxicated, and someone is either seriously injured or killed as a result of the accident. The elements that the state must prove include:
- The person was under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs,
- While driving a motor vehicle,
- They committed “any act forbidden by law or neglect[ed] any duty imposed by law in the driving of the motor vehicle” – meaning they negligently caused the accident, and
- Their negligence caused either great bodily injury or death to another person.
Felony DUIs are aggressively prosecuted in our state, and a conviction usually means prison time. Depending on the facts of your case, you may want a DUI defense lawyer who has:
- Extensive experience in the area of DUI law in SC,
- Trial experience in the area of DUI law in SC,
- Experience dealing with angry victims or victims’ family members,
- Familiarity with DUI accident and dram shop laws in SC, and
- Experience dealing with negative press coverage.
The potential penalties for felony DUI are more severe than the penalties for an “ordinary” DUI or DUAC – a felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury carries a minimum of 30 days and as much as 15 years in prison. A felony DUI resulting in death carries a minimum of one year and as much as 25 years in prison.
What are the potential penalties for other DUI offenses in SC?
DUI Penalties in SC
The potential penalties for a DUI conviction in SC depend on whether you have prior convictions for DUI or DUAC within the last ten years, whether you took the breathalyzer, and the breathalyzer results.
The table below shows the potential jail time for a DUI or DUAC conviction – note that there are mandatory minimum sentences at each level – for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th offenses based on the breathalyzer result (no breathalyzer result = < .10%).
|DUI or DUAC 1st, 2nd, or 3rd offense||BAC Level||Felony or Misdemeanor||Penalty|
|1st Offense||< .10%||misdemeanor||48 hours to 30 days|
|1st Offense||.10-.15%||misdemeanor||72 hours to 30 days|
|1st Offense||>.15%||misdemeanor||30 to 90 days|
|2nd Offense||<.10%||misdemeanor||5 days to 1 year|
|2nd Offense||.10-.15%||misdemeanor||30 days to 2 years|
|2nd Offense||>.15%||misdemeanor||90 days to 3 years|
|3rd Offense||<.10%||misdemeanor||60 days to 3 years|
|3rd Offense||.10-.15%||misdemeanor||90 days to 4 years|
|3rd Offense||>.15%||misdemeanor||6 months to 5 years|
|4th or Subsequent Offense||<.10%||felony||1-5 years|
|4th or Subsequent Offense||.10-.15%||felony||2-6 years|
|4th or Subsequent Offense||>.15%||felony||3-7 years|
In addition to the potential for jail time and mandatory minimum sentences, a DUI conviction can result in:
- License suspension or license revocation,
- Habitual offender status,
- Ignition interlock device (IID) requirements,
- ADSAP (Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program) requirements,
- SR-22 insurance,
- Fines and court fees,
- DMV fees and the fees associated with ADSAP and IID monitoring, and
- Inability to find meaningful employment – especially if your occupation involves driving.
Can DUI Convictions be Expunged in SC?
DUI convictions, like most traffic offenses in SC, cannot be expunged from your record and they do not “drop off” your record.
The only way to avoid a permanent criminal record for drunk driving is to fight the charges and get a dismissal, a plea to a lesser traffic offense, or an acquittal at trial.
DUI Implied Consent Suspensions and Administrative Hearings
You have the right to refuse the breathalyzer test in SC, and, in most cases, you probably should refuse the breath test.
If you do refuse the breath test, though, your license will immediately be suspended, you will have to enroll in the ADSAP program, and you may have to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle before you can drive again.
If you take the test, and the result is .15% or greater, your license will still be suspended, you will have to enroll in the ADSAP program, and you may have to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle before you can drive again.
DUI Implied Consent Hearings in SC
You have 30 days to request an administrative hearing to “undo” the implied consent suspension. Once we request an implied consent hearing, you can go to the DMV and get a temporary license that allows you to drive until the administrative hearing.
At the hearing, we can argue that:
- There was no probable cause for the DUI arrest (and implied consent suspension),
- The officer did not follow the implied consent laws or SLED policy and procedure, and
- You did not actually refuse the breathalyzer (or the result was incorrect).
If the hearing officer agrees, your license is restored to you – the “suspension is rescinded.”
If the officer does not appear at the hearing (or if the officer declines to offer testimony), your license is restored to you.
If you do not request a hearing or if the hearing officer upholds the suspension, you will then need to enroll in ADSAP and possibly install an IID before you can drive again.
Implied Consent is a Different Court Case than DUI Criminal Charges
Implied consent hearings are heard in the “administrative court,” and they are separate from your DUI charges in the criminal court.
If you win your implied consent hearing, that does not mean you have won your DUI case – your DUI charges are still pending in the criminal court and we still need to work on dismissal, negotiating a plea, or trial prep for the DUI charges.
Similarly, if you lose your implied consent hearing or do not request one, the penalties are cumulative – if you are also convicted of DUI in the criminal case, there will be an additional suspension and IID requirements as well as potential jail time and fines.
What should you do if you’ve been arrested and charged with DUI in Myrtle Beach?
Don’t plead guilty, don’t make any statements, and call your DUI lawyer on the Axelrod team immediately – there are deadlines including your jury trial request and administrative hearing request that must be handled as soon as possible.