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Your Columbia DUI Case: The Basics

You told her you'd pick her up from the bar if she couldn't drive. She didn't listen. It was "girl's night out" for your wife and five of her best gal pals. They wanted to relive their Mizzou days. How better to conjure up one's youth than go on a brew pubcrawl? No problem, except by the end of the night she was "three sheets to the wind," taking whiskey shots, and singing songs by hometown hero, Hootie and the Blowfish. You aren't surprised Columbia PD pulled her over for speeding.

Now she's hanging out in a jail cell at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center after failing miserably on the field sobriety tests and blowing a .18. You learn she'll be arraigned soon at the courthouse. Here's what happens next in a typical Columbia DUI case.


If you committed a felony, you'll have spent some time in jail until your arraignment. If not, you'll have been released with a promise to appear at a later time. At the arraignment, a judge will inform you of the charges and set bail. She may impose additional conditions such as alcohol testing. You will enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, or no contest. You can hire a lawyer, represent yourself, or ask for a public defender.

Driver's License

Your South Carolina driver's license will be suspended if you are found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The length of the suspension will be between 6 months for a first offense, 12 months for a second offense, and two years for a third offense. You may be eligible for a provisional license, which allows you to drive to work, school, medical appointments, and treatment programs. A provisional license costs about $100. Call (803) 896-5000 to check if you are eligible or speak to a qualified attorney.

Other Possible License Penalties

Many people do not realize that even if you are found not guilty for a DUI, you could still incur a license suspension for an implied consent violation (refusing to provide a breath or blood sample), or having a blood alcohol content of .16 or more.

Basically, the DUI criminal process may have separate administrative aspects that are not controlled by the outcome of the DUI criminal case.

More About Implied Consent

South Carolina's implied consent law dictates that refusing to take an alcohol test will result in an automatic six-month driver's license suspension. This is in addition to any penalties you'll receive if you are convicted or plead in the criminal case.

DUI Charges

In Columbia, there are a variety of ways drivers are charged with being impaired by drugs or alcohol. You can violate Driving Under the Influence (DUI) law in two separate ways:

  1. By driving and determined to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  2. Having a chemical test result of 0.08% BAC or higher.


Under Age 21 DUI

South Carolina has zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. If your BAC is .02% or higher, there are consequences: two to 30 days in jail, a fine, and a license suspension. Bottom line: if you are under 21 and have been drinking, don't even think of getting behind the wheel. It's just not worth it.

Smile, You're on Camera!

South Carolina's DUI law requires the arresting officer to videotape all aspects of the DUI arrest and any testing, whether onsite or in the police station. There are pretty specific requirements regarding when the video must be activated and what must be done in front of it. If these rules are not followed, cases can be dismissed.

If the proceedings cannot be videotaped, the officer must complete a sworn affidavit certifying that it was physically impossible to conduct the videotaping.

If the cop fails to videotape the stop, arrest, and/or fails to videotape any BAC test conducted at the police station, the case may be dismissed.

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

It's a bummer (and deservedly so), but if you've been convicted of two or more DUI offenses, you'll have to install a little device in any car you own or operate. It's called an "ignition interlock device" and it's designed to make sure you aren't drinking alcohol and driving. Anytime you attempt to start your car, you must blow into the device. If it detects a prohibited level of alchohol, the car won't start! Here's a useful guide to ignition interlock devices.

Will a South Carolina DUI conviction go on my driving record?

Yes. A DUI conviction will go on your South Carolina driving record and remain indefinitely.

If I'm convicted or plead, what happens to my insurance?

If you are convicted of Columbia DUI, one of two things will likely happen. Either your insurance company will raise your rates or your policy could be cancelled or not renewed. You'll also need to furnish the DMV with an SR-22 certificate to reinstate a license after suspension (as proof of insurability). Most insurance companies furnish this form to the DMV.

Remember, it's best to never drink or use drugs and drive. Select a designated driver ahead of time (one who is trusted to stay sober). You can also ask someone else to give you a ride, call a taxi, or use public transportation.

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You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Complex DUI situations usually require a lawyer
  • DUI defense attorneys can challenge Breathalyzer/Intoxilyzer or blood test results
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate DUI penalties
  • A lawyer can help get your license back

Get tailored advice and ask your legal questions. Many attorneys offer free consultations.


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