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Greenville DUI Lawyer

KENDRICK & LEONARD, P.C. > Greenville DUI Lawyer

DUI Lawyer in Greenville, SC

Are you facing DUI charges in Greenville, SC? Then you should consult a DUI lawyer as soon as possible. South Carolina laws foresee serious penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Those caught breaking those laws will need all the help they can get.

Depending on when they accept the case, Greenville DUI lawyers can:

  • Explain the laws and the penalties involved to their client
  • Help their client discover what penalties they risk
  • Assess the available evidence and propose defense strategies
  • Conduct their own investigations and gather helpful evidence
  • Implement the proposed defense strategies
  • Defend their client’s interest during the investigations and the court trial
  • Prove their client’s interest or at least help them obtain lower penalties

At Kendrick & Leonard, our DUI attorneys understand how challenging and confusing DUI cases can be. To help out, we provide free a free consultation to our clients in Greenville, SC. Because we believe in our clients’ right to information, we begin by reviewing the applicable DUI laws. We will do the same in the following lines.

 

BAC and Driving Under the Influence

South Carolina laws prohibit drivers from operating vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In order to determine if a driver violated the law, the authorities will check two aspects:

  1. Any material and appreciable impairments of the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle.
  2. The driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which should not exceed 0.08%.

Their findings may lead to two different types of charges: DUI and DUAC. The former one refers to drivers whose BAC limits range between 0.05% and 0.08%. The authorities will have to prove their impairment by additional means. For example, besides breathalyzer or blood tests, they will apply field sobriety tests.

Drivers with a BAC of 0.08% and higher will face charges of driving with unlawful alcohol concentration. The offense qualifies as DUI “per se”. Fighting it is more difficult and should not be attempted without the help of a Greenville DUI lawyer.

South Carolina laws are even stricter when it comes to drivers under 21 years of age. They fall in the “zero tolerance” category. For them, the BAC limit is of 0.02. For commercial vehicle drivers, the BAC limit is of 0.04.  

Driving after having one or two beers or glasses of wine may not seem such a big deal. However, convictions can result in license suspension or revocation, fines, and even jail time. It is better to contact a DUI lawyer and build a solid defense against any accusations.

At Kendrick & Leonard, our DUI attorneys know how important driving licenses are. They also warn clients on the importance of avoiding formal conviction. Many of our clients depend on their ability to drive to make a living. For others, a DUI conviction would represent the end of their career and social life.

Our DUI lawyers do everything in their power to help our clients avoid conviction. In fact, many of our clients leave our office saying we saved their lives. Such reactions are not exaggerated, taking into account the applicable penalties.

 

DUI Penalties or Why Consult a DUI Lawyer in Greenville, SC

In South Carolina, the penalties for DUI vary according to several factors:

  • The driver’s consent to BAC testing (see more information on “implied consent” below).
  • The category the driver fits in (under 21, commercial vehicle driver, etc.)
  • The driver’s BAC (the higher the BAC, the higher the penalties)
  • The existence of previous convictions (penalties are higher for repeat offenders)

 

Implied Consent or Why Most SC DUI Attorneys Advise Clients to Accept BAC Testing

South Carolina laws assume all drivers will consent to drugs and alcohol testing. When clients call us determined to refuse tests, we help them assess consequences. Test refusals will usually lead to 6 months of license suspension. For repeat offenders, the suspension period may reach 9 months.

 

Administrative Penalties for Drivers Younger than 21

Drivers younger than 21 caught driving with a BAC higher than 0.02% risk losing their license for 3 months. For repeat offenders, the license suspension period increases to 6 months. Refusing BAC testing will lead to a license suspension of 6 months for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders who refuse BAC testing will lose their right to drive for 1 year.

 

Administrative Penalties for Commercial Drivers who Commit DUI in Greenville SC

South Carolina commercial driver found with BAC of 0.04% or higher will lose their license for one year. The same penalty applies to drivers who refuse tests. Another probable consequence is job loss. Contacted on time, DUI attorneys may be able to help their client avoid conviction.

 

Criminal Penalties or Disasters a Greenville DUI Attorney May Avoid

Besides administrative penalties, like license suspension, SC laws also foresee criminal penalties. As mentioned above, they vary according to the BAC level and the existence of previous convictions. Here is their presentation or what drivers risk without help from DUI lawyers.

  • 1st DUI / DUAC – Drivers caught with a BAC lower than 0.10% will face misdemeanor charges. They risk up to 30 days of imprisonment and a fine of $400. They will also lose their license for up to 6 months. For BAC between 0.10% and 0.16%, the jail sentence and the license revocation period remain the same. The fine, however, increases up to $500. For a BAC higher than 0.16%, drivers will spend up to 90 days in prison. They will lose their license for the same 6-months period. The fine may reach $1,000. Of course, an experienced DUI attorney will always find solutions to avoid a conviction.
  • 2nd DUI / DUAC – Drivers caught driving under the influence for the second time risk even higher penalties. The offense qualifies as a misdemeanor. When the BAC is lower than 0.10%, the prison sentence can reach 1 year. Drivers also risk a fine of $5,100 and 1 year of license revocation. For a BAC between 0.10% and 0.16%, the jail penalty goes up to 2 years. The fine reaches $5,500 fine. Only the license revocation period remains the same. It remains at 1 year for drivers caught with BAC over 0.16% as well. However, these risk 3 years in prison and a fine of $6,500. Given the stake, all drivers facing 2nd DUI charges should consult a reputable DUI attorney.
  • 3rd DUI/DUAC – For third-time offenders, a BAC under 0.10% could mean 3 years in prison. It may also bring about a fine of $6,300 and a license revocation of up to 4 years.  A BAC between 0.10% and 0.16% attracts similar prison and license revocation penalties. However, the fine can reach $7,500. It grows up to $10,000 for BAC levels above 0.16%. The prison sentence may reach 5 years in such cases. Only the license revocation period remains the same, 4 years. No wonder most 3rd time offenders call a DUI attorney when the police stop them.
  • 4th DUI/DUAC – The penalties reach 5 years in prison and permanent revocation for BAC lower than 0.10%). They get to 6 years in prison and permanent revocation for BAC of 0.10-0.16%. A BAC higher than 0.16% leads to 7 years in jail and permanent license revocation. When risking such penalties, all drivers should trust their case to a DUI attorney.

As shown above, the penalties depend on the BAC limit. One solution DUI lawyers use to defend their clients is challenging the BAC results. This is easy when the driver has a deep understanding of the tests applied. Our DUI attorneys always help with this aspect, as some tests are better avoided. Here is some basic information on the tests South Carolina drivers have to pass.

 

The Breathalyzer Test through the Eyes of a Greenville DUI Lawyer

When the police pull over a driver suspecting them of intoxication, they apply the breathalyzer test. It falls under the implied consent rule described above. To administer the test, they use a device that measures breath alcohol.

When someone drinks alcohol, their body absorbs it. The alcohol enters the bloodstream and reaches the lungs. There, it evaporates and gets into the breath. The authorities use specialized devices to measure the alcohol in the drivers’ exhaled breath.

Those who know they have been drinking should always call a DUI lawyer, right from the scene. Refusing the test may not be a good idea due to the above-mentioned penalties. However, the DUI attorney will teach them what to pay attention to.

The test results are only admissible if the police officers followed protocol. Skilled DUI lawyers often succeed to prove they did not. They may also check the device to show that it did not receive proper maintenance and calibration. If that is true, the results would be questionable and would not hold in court.

 

The Field Sobriety Test in South Carolina

Depending on the BAC they determine, the authorities may request drivers to take a field sobriety test. They often propose the field sobriety test. It is important to note that this one is optional. In fact, many Greenville DUI attorneys advise their clients to refuse it.

A field sobriety test covers three parts:

  1. The horizontal gaze nystagmus – The officer holds an object at about 12 inches from the driver’s nose. They ask the driver to follow the object with their eyes as they move it from left to right. They analyze the driver’s eyes for signs of jerking (nystagmus).
  2. Walking straight and turning – The officer requests the driver to walk a number of steps in a straight line. They should step from heel to toe, their hands at their sides and counting steps. When they are done counting, they should turn and walk back to where they started. The officer will check their ability to count, walk straight, and maintain balance.
  3. Standing on one leg – The test requires drivers to stand on one leg holding the other one at six inches from the ground. They should keep their hands on the sides, without moving them. The police officers will also ask them to count by consecutive thousands. They will check the driver’s ability to hold their balance without using their hands and count.

The results of the field sobriety tests are admissible in court. However, an experienced DUI lawyer may be able to challenge them. They can show that some medical condition or medication side effects caused the driver to fail the test. The police officers will record the field sobriety test and use the recording as evidence. That is why, for drivers who have had a couple of drinks, refusing the test may be a better alternative.

When a driver fails the breathalyzer test and refuses field tests, the police officers will request blood tests. Urine tests are an alternative for drivers suspected to have consumed drugs. These, too, fall under the “implied consent” rule. Challenging them is difficult but not impossible for an experienced DUI attorney.

In fact, a DUI attorney should be the first person drivers contact when caught driving under the influence. The latter will assess their case and explain to them the law and the procedures involved. They will also advise their clients on dealing with the authorities and approach the tests. They will take over the formalities and defend their clients against all odds.

 

Schedule a Consultation with a Dedicated Greenville DUI Lawyer Now!

At Kendrick & Leonard, we have been defending Greenville drivers accused of DUI for years. Some clients call us from the scene of the accident. Others call us when their case has already reached court. We do everything in our power to help them keep their license and prove their innocence. When that is not possible, we make sure they get away with no or minimum penalties.

We can help you too. Call our office at 803.888.4038 and schedule a free consultation. Our DUI lawyer in Greenville will review your case, answer your questions, and recommend the best strategy. Let us help you protect your interests!

KENDRICK & LEONARD, P.C.
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