The Cost of a DUI in the Palmetto State
Drinking and driving is a very serious crime, and the state of South Carolina has many penalties in place to punish those who are caught doing so. Whether offenders are pulled over and arrested in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Greenville, Hilton Head Island or anywhere else in the state, the penalties are all the same – jail time, license suspension, and hefty fines. The financial repercussions of DUI in South Carolina (Driving Under the Influence) are what can be especially crippling to individuals now and into their future.
Penalties for DUI in the State of South Carolina
Those who are convicted of DUI in the state of South Carolina face a number of penalties, even if they are first time offenders. These penalties are meant to punish DUI offenders and make it so they do not commit the crime again. First time DUI offenders face the following penalties:
- Jail Sentence of Between 48 Hours and 90 Days
- Fines Between $400 and $1,000
- License Suspension of 6 Months
South Carolina does enforce a ten year “lookback” period, which means offenders who have had a drinking and driving conviction within the last ten years are treated as repeat offenders. Repeat offenders are often subject to longer jail sentences and license suspensions as well as higher monetary fines. Second time DUI offenders in the state of South Carolina face:
- Jail Sentence Between Five Days and Three Years
- Fines Between $2,100 and $6,500
- License Suspension of One Year
- Possibility of Having to Use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
While the license suspension or jail time may seem like the worst of these penalties, it is possible for offenders to be paying upwards of $10,000 in fines (the maximum financial penalty for third time DUI offenders), and when this is added to the other expenses associated with DUI, the price tag is high.
Financial Repercussions Before Conviction
What many people do not know is that they will be paying for drinking and driving way before they even go to court. When individuals are pulled over and arrested for suspicion of DUI, they often have to surrender their vehicle – unless the arresting officer allows a third party to claim the vehicle. The vehicle is then towed to a local impound lot for storage. When offenders are ready to get their vehicle back, they need to pay the towing and storage fees, which can range between a couple hundred and a couple thousand dollars depending on how long the car was sitting in the impound lot.
Offenders are then taken to jail, processed and fingerprinted, and then likely released with a date in which they need to appear in court. If there are aggravated circumstances associated with the case, such as causing an accident, injury, having a high Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or having a minor present in the vehicle, it is possible for individuals to be booked and held with bail. This bail needs to be paid in order for individuals to be released, and bail for aggravated DUI varies between $500 and $50,000. Often times, family members, friends or a bail bondsman have to pay the offender’s bail.
Once offenders have received their first court date, it is in their best interest to receive legal help from an attorney. Every attorney has a different fee that he or she charges for legal services, which could be an hourly rate, a flat fee or the attorney could only require payment if he or she wins the case or gives the offender a favorable outcome. For good DUI attorneys, it is possible to pay between $1,000 and $20,000 for their services, which could be worth it if it helps offenders to avoid a DUI conviction.
Financial Repercussions After Conviction
If offenders are found guilty of DUI, they are then responsible for dealing with the penalties of their crime. For first time offenders, this means spending up to 90 days in jail, having their license suspended for six months and having to pay fines upwards of $1,000 on top of what they have already paid in legal fees, bail and towing and storage of their vehicle. It is important to know that although these are the penalties for DUI in South Carolina, the price of DUI varies between states.
Car Insurance After a DUI Conviction
Another financial impact offenders face after their DUI conviction in South Carolina is seeing an increase to their car insurance rates. While it is inevitable that their car insurance rates will increase, the amount of increase will completely depend on the insurance provider and the formulas it uses to determine risk and what it costs to cover that risk. With that in mind, on average, car insurance agencies in South Carolina raise their rates by almost 110 percent for DUI offenders, adding about $100 to their monthly premiums. This state is relatively harsh when compared to other states in the country.
Avoiding the High Cost of DUI in the State of South Carolina
When considering all of the financial impacts a DUI conviction can have, it would not be surprising for someone who is convicted to be paying upwards of 40,000 or possibly more when lost wages and lost time at work are added into the equation. Drinking and driving is not only a very expensive mistake, it can also cost people their lives or the lives of others. The best way to avoid the cost of DUI is to not drink and drive – it will not only save a lot of money, but it can potentially save your life and the lives of others.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.