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The flashing police lights in your rearview mirror were startling. Then you were put in handcuffs, read your Miranda rights and took a ride in the back squad car. Now you’re charged with driving under the influence (DUI), and you don’t know what to do.

The first thing you need is a DUI attorney to help you understand the charge you’re facing and to advise you on how to proceed through the legal process. Don’t delay!

Right now, you undoubtedly have questions. Here are answers to some of the most common questions asked by those who have been charged with DUI in SC.

Is DUI a traffic violation?

DUI is much more than a traffic violation. Speeding, failing to signal a turn and rolling through a stop sign are nothing compared to a DUI charge.

DUI is a criminal offense that can be punished by fines and jail time.

Typically, a first offense is a misdemeanor, and the judge chooses between a fine or a jail sentence. Subsequent offenses mean both a fine and jail time. Second and third offenses are misdemeanors. Fourth offenses and beyond are felonies. The penalties increase dramatically with each offense.

In most cases, a DUI arrest results in a suspended driver’s license even before the case goes before a judge. Refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test or blowing 0.15% or higher blood alcohol content (BAC) results in a driver’s license suspension.

Let’s say your driving is impeccable while slightly over the inference level of 0.08% BAC. Even then you can still be charged with a crime called driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC). DUI and DUAC have the same penalties.

Does DUI go on criminal record?

Yes, a DUI conviction remains on your criminal record for life. This is true regardless of whether your charge is a misdemeanor or felony.

There is also an impact to your driving record with the Department of Motor Vehicles. DUI remains on your driving record for 10 years. This means that if an employer pulls your driving record within 10 years of your conviction, the DUI will show up.

Can DUI charges be expunged?


Technically speaking, an expungement is a court order commanding state agencies to destroy records. South Carolina law is very specific about which records can and cannot be expunged. DUI convictions cannot be expunged from your criminal record.

Does DUI increase car insurance?

Yes, a DUI conviction increases your car insurance rates because insurance companies view DUI as risky behavior. Riskier drivers tend to cost insurance companies more money than other drivers, so the companies charge riskier drivers higher premiums. Brace yourself for a huge jump in insurance costs. Your insurer may drop you when your current policy expires, and you’ll need to find an insurer willing to cover you.

Can DUI affect child custody?

Family law judges determine child custody under one key principle: the best interest of the child. When one parent is facing jail time for a DUI charge, it is unlikely a judge will award custody to that parent. Additionally, more recent DUI charges have a negative effect on a judge’s opinion. Repeated DUI convictions show a history of recklessness.

Will DUI affect or prevent security clearance?

Yes, a DUI can negatively affect your ability to get and maintain government security clearance. It can affect your employment in other ways. For instance, you might not get into nursing school, obtain a nursing license or get a public school teaching job.

Should I plead guilty, or should I hire a lawyer?

You should never plead guilty to a charge without first consulting an attorney. A DUI conviction can have long lasting impact on your life such as jail time, a criminal history and limited employment opportunities. You need to fight for your rights, and the team at Giese law will be strong advocates and partners for you in this fight. Dial 803-708-6767 to speak with one of our criminal defense attorneys.

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Barney Giese

Keith Giese