If you are facing charges for a second DUI offense in Greenville, SC, you need to hire an attorney immediately.
The attorneys at Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC can provide you with criminal defense and seek the best possible legal outcome on your behalf.
The Lookback Period for a Second Offense DUI
In South Carolina, the only type of DUI that is charged as a felony is when there is serious injury or death involved. Second offenses will be charged as a misdemeanor. You should not make the mistake of thinking that misdemeanor charges are not serious because they are not a felony. There are still serious potential penalties and impacts on your life that you may face.
Second-offense DUI applies, regardless of where the first conviction occurred. If your first offense was for driving under the influence of drugs, and the second conviction was for alcohol, it will count as a second offense charge.
Police will look at convictions that occurred in all states because states report conviction data into a national database. South Carolina knows about every motor vehicle conviction in another state, including a DUI, because they are part of an interstate compact.
There is a time limit on how far back the prosecutor may go to use a prior DUI conviction. In South Carolina, the lookback period is ten years, longer than it is in many other states. The lookback will only consider charges that resulted in a conviction. If you were acquitted of the charges, or they were dropped entirely, it will not count as a first offense.
The potential penalties for a second offense DUI charge depend on your BAC at the time that you were stopped:
- For a BAC between .08 and .10, the jail sentence is 5 days to a year in jail and a fine of $2,100 to $5,100.
- For a BAC between .10 and .16, the jail sentence is 30 days to 2 years in jail and a fine of $2,500 to $5,500.
- For a BAC above .16, the penalty is 90 days to 3 years in jail and a fine of $3,500 to $6,500.
In South Carolina, assessments and other court costs will dramatically increase the value of the monetary penalties. These costs can more than double the total amount of your fine. In addition, the driver will also have their license suspended for one year. When they regain their driving privileges, the motorist will need to install an ignition interlock device at their own expense.
There is a wide range of punishments for those convicted of their second DUI offense. Even if there is a jail sentence, the judge also has the discretion to suspend the sentence or sentence you to community service. Accordingly, there is much for you to consider whether you are deciding whether to negotiate a plea bargain or fight the charges against you.
Defenses to a Second Offense DUI Charge
Your defenses will need to focus on the fact that there is a legal issue with the second DUI charge against you. The first conviction is settled, and it cannot be disturbed.
In any DUI case, your attorney will review your individual circumstances to determine whether there is a possibility that you can fight the charges against you.
Here are some possible defenses to a DUI charge:
- Police improperly stopped you because they did not have reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed.
- Police did not have a legal basis to arrest you because they did not have probable cause to believe that a crime had been committed.
- There was a problem with the chemical evidence being used against you (the test may have been faulty, or there was not a documented and continuous chain of custody of the test evidence).
- The Breathalyzer test machine that yielded the result was not working properly, or it was not properly calibrated.
- The police violated your legal rights after they arrested you, and they improperly gathered evidence that they now cannot use against you.
Your attorney may consider the available evidence and whether there is a window to challenge it. A vigorous legal defense can also help you obtain a more favorable plea deal should you choose to pursue one. The prosecutor may be more motivated to reach a plea agreement.
It is important to consider the legal ramifications when you have been charged with any type of DUI. If you plead guilty to a second offense charge, there can be a much steeper penalty if you are arrested and charged with a third offense DUI. You can be imprisoned for up to three years for a third offense, and there is a high probability that you will serve actual time in prison (as opposed to a suspended sentence).
Contact a Greenville DUI Defense Lawyer Today
The attorneys at Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC are here to help you when you have been charged with a serious motor vehicle offense. We will get to the bottom of your case and help you with an effective legal strategy. You certainly have legal rights, and you may have legal options.
Your first step to defending your case is to contact an attorney today online or by calling us at (864) 920-2709. Reach out to us to review your case.
DUI Case FAQs
How long will my DUI case take?
It depends on whether you decide to take your case to trial. If you defend the charges, it can take one year or more.
Are there additional charges if serious injury was involved?
Yes. If there were great bodily injury or death, the case would be charged as a felony DUI, with mandatory jail time.
What happens if the police try to question me?
Like any criminal case, you have the right to have an attorney present at your questioning and to refuse to answer questions. You have legal rights.