First Time DUI
At the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, located in Lexington, South
Carolina, we represent individuals who have been arrested and charged
with driving under the influence (DUI). Many times those arrested for
DUI have never been arrested before, have good jobs and families that
they support. We understand that an arrest, and worse yet a criminal conviction,
can have drastic and lifetime consequences for our clients. Choosing a
lawyer for your or a loved one's DUI case is an important decision,
and one that should not be taken lightly. If after reading the materials
contained on this web site if you would like to consult with
criminal defense lawyer James Snell about your case you can contact our office at (888) 301-6004
to schedule your no cost consultation.
When you contact our office for your initial appointment you will meet
in-person with James Snell. This meeting is confidential and without any
obligation. During this meeting he will review the specifics of your arrest
along with any available legal or factual defenses. You will have an opportunity
to ask any questions that you may have. If you choose to hire us for your
case we can begin working to regain any driver's license lost due
to an implied consent violation (due to refusing the breath test or testing
over 0.15). Additionally we can take whatever steps are necessary to protect
your interests with the Court, even on short notice.
South Carolina DUI Defense
We recognize that just because someone is arrested for DUI does not mean
that they are automatically guilty. Our system of justice is founded on
the principle that you are innocent until proven guilty. This isn't
just something you hear about on TV, it applies to everyone who finds
themselves on the wrong side of a police encounter. Defense attorney James
Snell takes a multi-step approach to every DUI case that he is involved
with. Our defense services will include an investigation into the facts
of your arrest as well as a review of the procedures used by the police.
Unlike other criminal offenses whether or not the police followed standard
practices can have significant results in the outcome of any DUI case.
Typical issues involved in a DUI case include:
- Did the police have probable cause or legal justification for pulling the
- If a single car accident occurred can the police prove the defendant was driving?
- Did the police exceed the scope of a legal traffic stop in their DUI investigation?
- Were field sobriety tests administered in accordance with the National
Highway and Traffic Safety Administration standards? (Many tests, such
as the alphabet or counting on fingers may no longer be recognized.)
- Does the defendant have any medical conditions rendering field testing
improper? For example do they have a bad back or wear glasses or contacts?
- Did the police officer properly videotape the roadside procedures as required
by law? If so, have they maintained the tape?
- Was Miranda given at the required stage of the DUI arrest?
- Was the breathalyzer test properly administered?
- Was the breathalyzer machine properly maintained and calibrated?
- Did the police officer properly videotape the breathalyzer procedure and
required waiting period? If so, have they maintained the tape?
- Was the defendant advised of their implied consent rights orally and in writing?
South Carolina First DUI Penalties
Since 2009 South Carolina has had a three tiered system for first offense
DUI penalties. It is based on the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) reading
that a Court finds a defendant to have at the time of the arrest. Most
of the time this finding is made solely based on the reading of the breathalyzer
machine. The penalties for a conviction are as follows:
- For a BAC < .10 a fine of $1,022 and up to 30 days in jail
- For a BAC .10 to .16 a fine of $1,229.50 and up to 30 days in jail
- For a BAC > .16 a fine of $2,267 and up to 90 days in jail
If the court finds that there was a valid refusal of a breath, blood, or
urine test, or the BAC was 0.15 or higher, then there is an additional
requirement of an ignition interlock device (installed and maintained
at the defendant’s expense).
In addition to these penalties anyone convicted of DUI will also face the
- Publically available criminal conviction that cannot be expunged later
- Driver's license suspension
- Mandatory Alcohol and drug counseling at a cost of up to $2,500
- Required "SR-22" insurance
- Greatly enhanced penalties for any future DUI charge
Is it worth it to fight a DUI arrest?
An arrest for DUI is not the same as a conviction. You are not convicted
until you either plead guilty, no contest or are found guilty after a
trial. There is no automatic reduction in the penalties for those who
choose to plead guilty rather than fight their charges in Court. It is
impossible for any defendant to know if the police officer will have enough evidence
to present to the Court to support a DUI conviction. Only after conducting
pre-trial discovery in accordance with the South Carolina Rules of Criminal
Procedure and examining other publically available records maintained
by the police, including SLED, can you even begin to make this determination.
Therefore it is important that anyone who has been charged with DUI consult
with an attorney before appearing in Court.
DUI and Blood Alcohol Content
South Carolina's DUI law is codified in S.C. Code § 56-5-2930.
This law makes it illegal to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence
of alcohol or another drug to the extent that their "faculties to
drive" are "materially and appreciably impaired". It is
important to note at the onset that there is no specific blood alcohol
content (BAC) requirement necessary for a DUI arrest or conviction. Although
BAC plays a part in DUI cases, especially in the penalty phase, there
is no minimum BAC required to support a DUI case in South Carolina nor
is there a BAC leval high enough to "automatically" convict someone.