One of the most common questions that I receive is whether or not a driver's
license will be suspended by virtue of a
South Carolina DUI arrest. The first thing to understand is that an arrest refers to being initially
charged, it is not the same as being convicted in court.
If you are arrested for DUI, your license will be suspended if you either
refuse an alcohol test or test above a 0.15 BAC level. If this applies
to you your license will be suspended immediately. You can partially lift
the suspension by obtaining a Temporary Alcohol License (called a "TAL")
which will allow you to drive unrestricted in South Carolina.
A TAL is obtained by filing a request for a contested case hearing with
the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings in Columbia. We actually send a runner
to Columbia to file our clients petitions in person so that they can be
scheduled to receive a TAL as soon as possible. Usually in about a week
the DMV will allow the TAL to be issued, allowing you to drive freely
in South Carolina.
This "up front" alcohol testing suspension is applied regardless
of whether or not you are ever found guilty of the underlying DUI, but
only for those who refuse a test or provide a high sample.
If you are convicted of DUI, by either pleading guilty, no contest, or
being found guilty after a trial, then your license will also be suspended.
This will be for a minimum of 6 months, and on top of any initial suspension
due to alcohol testing. If you have never received one previously then
you may qualify for a provisional license, which operates somewhat similarly
to the TAL.
If you are never convicted of DUI (because your charge is dismissed, reduced
to a non-DUI plea bargain, or you are found not-guilty) then you will
not face a license suspension.
We understand that the license issues surrounding a DUI arrest can be confusing.
It is important to make sure that you have the correct information because
otherwise you could subject yourself to a driving under suspension charge.
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