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Do I Need a DUI Attorney for a First Offense in South Carolina?

Okay, so you got charged for DUI first offense. Pay the fine and get it over with right? Whenever someone gets a charge of driving under the influence, it is often times two separate cases. What do I mean by that? If someone is charged with DUI they will be offered a Datamaster test, sometimes referred to as a breath test. Whenever you refuse to provide a sample or if you provide a breath sample with the alcohol content of .015% or more, there will be an administrative portion of the case is well.

The administrative portion deals with your license suspension as a result of the reading of the data master, or your refusal. In order to get your license back after having your license suspended for one of the reasons above, you can request an administrative hearing.

The administrative hearing is conducted by a hearing officer. Generally, the arresting officer will appear and testify as to certain requirements, such as whether there was cause for the stop, whether it was truly a refusal, or whether the Datamaster machine was working properly. Having a DUI Lawyer in Charleston, SC review the procedures and having him or her present to cross examine the officer at the administrative hearing could result in a return of your driving privileges.

The other portion of the driving under the influence case is the criminal case. So the original question, "should I just pay the fine," really relates solely to the criminal portion of the DUI case. That raises the other issue of the collateral consequences associated with a DUI charge and conviction.

What are the collateral consequences in a DUI case?

In any DUI case, you will suffer another driving license suspension for at least six months if there is a conviction. This is in addition to any suspension that you may receive administratively. Another consequence is that you will have to complete the ADSAP program. The stands for alcohol and drug safety action program which cost at least $500, and up to $2000.

The DUI conviction will also appear on your rap sheet and be visible for anyone who does a background check to see. Your insurance will certainly be affected, and under the new law that took affect on October 1, 2014, depending on your blood alcohol level, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device. All of this is in addition to the fine.

So let's go back to that first question, should I just pay the fine? Well, let's say you were arrested for DUI and refused the Datamaster test. You admit it, you were drunk. You go in to court without a DUI attorney to represent you and the judge asks how you want to plead and you say, "guilty your honor."

Your license is already been suspended for six months because of the refusal. You probably didn't request an administrative hearing because you were unsure of what that was or even how to do it. Your time has now lapsed and there's no chance of that. The judge has imposed just under a $1000 fine and shortly you will receive another notice from the DMV indicating that your license will be suspended for another six months (total of one year).

Next week, your boss finds out you plead guilty to the DUI, don't have a drivers license, and you are let go from your job. Several days later, you’re begging your friends and family to take you places to apply for jobs, but no one really wants to hire you until you get your license back, or won't hire you at all because of the DUI conviction is now in your record. You insurance company readjusts your premium because they too have found out about the DUI conviction. Geez, what do you do?

For starters, call me up and thank me for writing this article, and let's sit down and talk about your DUI case.

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