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How to Protect Your Driver's License

You can lose your driver's license in South Carolina for a DUI arrest in one of two ways. The first is for an implied consent violation. You'll know if this applies to you case if the officer provided you with a "Notice of Suspension Form" or if you refused any breath, urine or blood test or submitted a test and had a reading of 0.15 or greater. The second is if you are convicted of DUI or DUAC in court.

Being arrested is not the same as being convicted. You are only convicted if you plead guilty, plead no contest, or are found guilty after a trial. Beginning in October, 2014, this information is subject to change due to the recently passed "Emma's Law." Up until that time, this information will apply to all South Carolina DUI cases.

Implied Consent Violations

We help our clients whose licenses were taken from them as part of a DUI arrest get back to driving legally again, usually in about a week. South Carolina law presumes that anyone who operates a motor vehicle will consent to submitting to an alcohol breath test. This is called the implied consent law. Anyone who is arrested for DUI or DUAC and fails to cooperate with a breath or other test, or who cooperates but provides a sample of 0.15 or higher will have their driver's license immediately suspended. Normally, but not always, the officer will keep your driver's license and also provide you with a Notice of Suspension form.

Sometimes the officer "forgets" this step, which can cause an unsuspecting person to later be charged with driving under suspension. If you triggered an implied consent violation in anyway, even if you don't believe the officer provided you with the Notice of Suspension form, you need to take immediate action to ensure that you maintain a legal status to drive.

We help our clients by filing a challenge of any implied consent suspension with the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings. There is a 30 day deadline to submit this application, so it is important to contact our office as soon as possible after any DUI arrest. We normally will submit the challenge paperwork within one business day of being retained. Usually in 3-5 business days you will be eligible to go to the DMV and receive a Temporary Alcohol License.

The Temporary Alcohol License is not route restricted. You can drive anywhere in South Carolina with it just like you can with your regular driver's license. There is a cost of $100 to receive this license. You do not have to enroll in ADSAP first either. You will be allowed to drive on this license for 6 months, or until there is a decision made by the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings.

It is important to understand that the implied consent hearing procedure is a separate civil case, that is completely different than your criminal DUI or DUAC charge. The outcome of the implied consent hearing doesn't change what happens in Traffic Court, and what happens in Traffic Court doesn't change the outcome of the implied consent hearing.

If you are an out of state resident, the implied consent law will suspend your privileges to drive in South Carolina, even if your home state's license remains valid. If this applies to you we can help you obtain a driving credential that you can use must the same way as a Temporary Alcohol License, allowing you to continue to use your regular driver's license in South Carolina.

DUI and DUAC Suspensions

We help our clients avoid false or unnecessary DUI and DUAC convictions, saving them from a mandatory license suspension. Anyone who is convicted of DUI or DUAC will face administrative penalties imposed by the DMV. Neither the officer nor the judge has any control over the DMV penalties. They will be applied to everyone, in every case who is convicted. These penalties will include a requirement to obtain SR-22 car insurance, a requirement to complete ADSAP (which may also be required by the court), and a driver's license suspension. You are only convicted of DUI or DUAC if you plead guilty, plead no contest, or are found guilty after a trial.

There is no reduction in the DMV penalties to those who choose to plead guilty or no contest. If you are arrested for DUI or DUAC the only way you can avoid these DMV penalties is if your charge is voluntarily reduced (for example to reckless driving) or voluntarily dismissed by the prosecutor, or if you have a trial and win either a legal dismissal or a not-guilty verdict. Your license will be suspended for at least 6 months following a DUI or DUAC conviction. However you can apply for a provisional license.

To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have had a valid driver's license
  • Pay a $100 application fee
  • Obtain SR-22 Insurance
  • Enroll or Complete the ADSAP Program

The suspension process will apply no matter who arrested you. This includes:

  • Highway Patrol
  • Lexington County Sheriff's Department
  • Town of Lexington
  • City of West Columbia
  • City of Columbia
  • Richland County Sheriff's Department
  • Batesburg-Leesville Police Department
  • Town of Irmo Police Department
  • Any other South Carolina Law Enforcement Agency

Summary in Review

In every DUI case there is a possibility of a driver's license suspension. This can come in two possible ways: on the "front end" as part of an implied consent suspension or on the "back end" after a DUI or DUAC conviction. By consulting with a Lexington DUI Defense Attorney as soon as possible after an arrest, you can give yourself the best chance of protecting your driver's license. At the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, we can help our clients whose licenses were taken at the time of their arrest get back to legally driving again, usually in about a week.

For a free consultation with a Lexington DUI defense attorney, contact us today at (803) 359-3301.

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