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Consequences of a DUI in Columbia, SC and How to Avoid Them

Consequences of a DUI in Columbia, SC and How to Avoid Them 1

Driving under the influence (DUI) can result in serious repercussions. Specifically, some common consequences of DUI charges in Columbia, South Carolina include:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Raised car insurance rates
  • Court-mandated community service
  • Permanent blot on legal record
  • Limited job opportunities


However, depending on a variety of factors, these consequences can vary in terms of degree, length, and dollar amount. This is why we always recommend speaking with a DUI defense attorney in Columbia, South Carolina for help. 

Below, we’ll take a look at how DUI consequences are determined and how to avoid getting harsher penalties. 

Tests to Determine DUI Consequences

Officials use a variety of tests to determine whether to charge you with driving under the influence, and to what degree. These tests are split into two categories: 1) Field Sobriety Tests (FST) and 2) Blood Alcohol Concentration (“BAC”) tests (breath, blood and/or urine tests)

Field Sobriety Tests.

Law enforcement officers use FST to determine if there is probable cause to charge you with a DUI. Your FST usually will include at least three standardized tests, and they must all be videotaped. In Columbia, South Carolina, you may refuse to participate in FST, but you could still be arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. 

Standard FST tests include: 

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (“HGN”) test – The officer moves an object in front of your face while you follow it with your eyes. The officer notes any unusual behavior.
  • Walk the line test – While counting your steps, you take 10 (or the amount the officer instructs) heel-to-toe steps, turn around, and walk back. The officer notes any unsuccessful steps. The officer also will write down anything you do outside of his specific instructions.
  • Stand on one leg – You stand on one leg and count to a certain number as instructed by the officer. The officer will note any problems you have completing the task and anything you do different from his exact instructions

The results of your FST may determine if you’ll be asked to take a Breathalyzer test. However, even if you do walk straight and stand on one leg for 30 seconds, the officer may note a failure to follow instructions or other factors in placing you under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence 

Datamaster Test

The Datamaster is the only breath testing device that provides court-admissible evidence in South Carolina. It’s a desktop device that measures alcohol content in your breath. You must first be offered a breath test to determine your BAC. If your BAC is at or above .08%, there is an inference that you are  driving under the influence of alcohol. If you register between a .05 and .08, you still may be charged with DUI and the BAC may be considered along with other evidence of guilt or innocence. If you register below a .05, it is conclusively presumed that you are not under the influence of alcohol.

Blood Test

In some circumstances, such as if you are physically unable to provide a breath sample, you may be asked to provide a blood sample to measure your BAC.

Urine Test

When the officer has reasonable suspicion that you may be under the influence of drugs other than alcohol, or under a combination of drugs and alcohol, the officer may order that a urine sample be collected for testing.

Different DUI Consequences in Columbia, SC, Based on Circumstance

DUI consequences vary depending on a multitude of factors, including number of prior offenses, related injuries, and the BAC of the offender. Here’s a look at the differing consequences in Columbia, South Carolina:

First DUI Offense

For  a first DUI offense, you’ll face a fine of at least $400 (actual fines are much higher than listed because of court costs and other fees) or imprisonment for 48 hours – 30 days. However, if your BAC is .16 or above, you will be fined $1,000 or imprisoned 30 – 90 days. The court may also require the installation of an ignition interlock device to prevent you from operating your vehicle under the influence. The installation is at your expense. 

Second DUI Offense

For a  second DUI offense, you’ll face a fine between $2,100 and $5,100 AND imprisonment for 5 days – 1 year. However, if your BAC is between .10 and .16, the fine is $2,500 to $5,500 AND imprisonment for 30 days – 2 years. If your BAC is .16 or higher, the fine is $3,000 – $6,000 AND imprisonment for 90 days – 3 years. Your driver’s license will be suspended and .when you are eligible to get a new driver’s license, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device.. The installation is at your expense.

Third DUI Offense

For your third DUI offense, you’ll face a fine between $3,800 and $6,300 AND imprisonment for 60 days – 3 years. However, if your BAC is between .10 and .16, the fine is $5,000 to $7,500 AND imprisonment for 90 days – 4 years. If your BAC is .16 or higher, the fine is $7,500 – $10,000 AND imprisonment for 6 months – 5 years. Your driver’s license will be suspended and when you are eligible to get a new driver’s license, you will be required to install an ignition interlock   The installation is at your expense.

Fourth DUI Offense

For your fourth DUI offense, you’ll face imprisonment for 1-5 years. However, if your BAC is between .10 and .16, you must be imprisoned for 2 – 6 years. If your BAC is .16 or higher, you must be imprisoned 3 – 7 years. Your driver’s license will be suspended.  The court may also suspend your license, require you to surrender your vehicle registration and license plates, and/or require the installation of an ignition interlock device to prevent you from operating your vehicle under the influence. The installation is at your expense.

Felony DUI Offense

If you are driving under the influence and you cause great bodily injury or death to another person, you can be charged with Felony DUI

If you’re convicted of a Felony DUI that results in great bodily injury in Columbia, SC, the consequences are:

  • Fine between $5,100 and $10,100
  • Imprisonment for 30 days – 15 years
  • Driver’s license suspension during the term of imprisonment plus three years
  • Interlock device for 3 years

If you’re convicted of a Felony DUI that results in death in Columbia, SC , the consequences are:

  • Fine between $10,1000 and $25,100
  • Imprisonment for 1 – 25 years
  • Driver’s license suspension during term of imprisonment plus five years
  • Interlock device for 5 years

Underage DUI Offense

South Carolina has a Zero Tolerance Policy for underage drinking and driving, which means minors can be charged with an Underage DUI after just one drink. 

If you’re under 21 and have a BAC of .02-.08%, the consequences are:

First Underage DUI Offense in South Carolina

  • Driver’s license suspension for three months
  • Driver’s license suspension for six months if you refuse a chemical test

Second Underage DUI Offense in South Carolina

  • Driver’s license suspension for six months
  • Driver’s license suspension for one year if you refuse a chemical test

If you’re under 21 and have a BAC of .08% or higher, the consequences are:

First Offense

  • Driver’s license suspension for six months
  • $400 fine
  • 48 hours – 30 days of jail time
  • 48 hours of public service

These consequences get harsher with more charges. 

How to Avoid Harsh Consequences of DUIs

The best way to avoid harsh DUI consequences is to hire a local Columbia DUI defense attorney. Once hired, they’ll examine the handling of your arrest, results of chemical tests, and accuracy of officer recollections in order to help the court and/or jury understand all evidence. 

In many cases, Columbia DUI defense attorneys can help you reduce your drunk driving charge.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, contact Bernstein & Bernstein via phone call or our website contact page. As experienced defense attorneys, we can help you navigate the process of court appearances and defending your case.

5 Things to Know Before You File a Personal Injury Case in Columbia SC

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If you’re recovering from an injury, trying to afford medical bills, or dealing with the stress of your situation, pursuing a personal injury case in Columbia, SC may seem like an impossible task. You may not be sure how long it will take, how much it will cost, how much you can earn, or even if you have a case. Let’s talk about 5 things you should know before you file a personal injury case in Columbia, SC.

#1 Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit is Your Right

Personal injury lawsuits are meant to protect you and your future. If your injury was caused by another party’s negligence — a lack of care for your safety that would have prevented the injury — you may be entitled to damages. Damages can provide relief from medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, or reimburse lost wages from a short-term disability or long-term diminished earnings.

A Columbia lawyer can help make sure you receive what you’re entitled to, either through a trial or settlement out of court.

#2 A Columbia Lawyer Can Help You Recover More

People who work with a personal injury lawyer are likely to recover more than someone who goes through the process alone. It pays to work with a professional who understands personal injury cases. They know what you need to support your claim, how to present your case in court, how to negotiate in your best interests, and what qualifies as an adequate settlement. 

Trying to go through the process alone can be intimidating, especially if you’re still recovering from an injury. Insurance companies will be out to save money for the companies they represent and not looking out for you. A dedicated personal injury lawyer, on the other hand, will always be on your side. They will take the time to hear and understand your side of the story, and advocate for you to the court.

#3 Don’t Wait to File Your Personal Injury Suit in Columbia, SC

If you’re thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit in Columbia, SC, the sooner you file, the better. There is a time limit in every state to file, known as a statute of limitations. In South Carolina, you generally have two or three years before you can no longer bring your claim. The clock starts on the day of your incident. Since it can take time to gather documentation and prepare your case, it’s better to start as soon as you can by working with a local Columbia, SC lawyer.

Also, the sooner you begin the process, the more likely you are to remember key information about the injury and the conditions that caused it, such as names, dates, witnesses, weather, or other details. Over time, memories can become muddled and it can be difficult to pursue a claim, even with an excellent lawyer representing you.

#4 It Won’t Cost You Anything Up Front

Most personal injury lawyers in Columbia, SC work on a contingency basis. Their fee is contingent on the outcome of the claim or lawsuit. This means that you don’t have to pay to work with an attorney upfront. Their earnings will come out of what you settle for or are awarded in the case. Contingency also works in your favor because you can trust that your lawyer is motivated to earn you top dollar. If you hire our firm, you will not pay anything unless we recover money for you.

#5 Personal Injury Cases in Columbia, SC Can Take Time

Personal injury cases are rarely a quick process, but it is worth it if compensation for your injury is justified. Before you file your claim, expect the process to take at least several months, but maybe even one or more years to complete, depending on the complexity of the case and severity of your injuries. 

It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to extend the case just to see if you will get impatient. You and your attorney share the same goal, so you can trust they are working to conclude the case as quickly and efficiently as possible, but they won’t encourage you to settle for less than your claim is worth.

Ready to pursue your personal injury suit? Trust Bernstein & Bernstein to help you get what you deserve. Your local Columbia, SC lawyers, we’re experienced in claims just like yours and are ready to earn you the peace and relief you need after your traumatic experience. Give us a call or reach out to our team online today.