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Is jail time required for first-time South Carolina DUI charges?

The experience of being pulled over by a police officer for suspicion of driving under the influence is likely to be intimidating. However, it’s what could come afterward that could prove to be even more concerning.

For many people, it may be hard to imagine how law enforcement officials and prosecutors will proceed with the charges at the time of arrest. This is particularly true if the defendant is found guilty or accepts a plea deal. Perhaps people wonder if they will be required to spend time behind bars for a first-time DUI offense.

Of course, every drunk driving case is different and judges can exercise discretion in issuing sentences, but the law provides a general framework for first-time DUI consequences. According to South Carolina statute, a person could face a jail sentence ranging between 48 hours and 30 days.

At the same time, a $400 fine could be issued or community service time could be substituted for a jail sentence. In other words, jail time isn’t necessarily guaranteed, but it’s a distinct possibility for a first-time DUI conviction.

The reality is that people make mistakes. A responsible person could wind up facing jail time for a single slip up in judgment. Of course, this calls to mind the importance of working for a fair sentence if conviction occurs. In essence, the punishment for criminal charges should fit the circumstances of the case, rather than being excessively stringent.

Given the variability of sentencing and details of DUI cases, this blog post shouldn’t be viewed as legal advice. Rather, an experienced attorney can provide more specific direction, which could include working toward acquittal or a fair sentence.

Source: WestLaw, S.C. Code 1976 § 56-5-2930

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