A DUI Costs HOW Much In South Carolina?
You have likely heard that a DUI conviction in the Charleston area is expensive, but do you know how extreme the costs actually are? Typical DUI costs, from initial arrest through the legal process and until your driver’s license suspension is lifted, can add up to $10,000 or more. And that’s before you factor in any lost future income and damage to your reputation that can result from having a DUI on your record.
This article will help you better understand just how costly DUIs can be and provides advice about how you can minimize the financial impact of a DUI arrest or conviction.
If you’ve been arrested on suspicion of DUI, getting help to fight the charges early can be the difference between paying some fines and moving forward versus facing devastating financial consequences for years to come.
DUI Fines, Fees And Court Costs In South Carolina
Depending on your blood alcohol content (BAC) level at the time of your arrest, your costs will be:
- First offense: Between $400 and $1,000
- Second offense: Between $2,000 and $6,500
- Third offense: Between $3,800 and $10,000
For fourth, fifth or any subsequent offenses, fines are the least of your worries. Those repeat offenses can lead to up to seven years in prison, away from your family and unable to make a living.
Factors Affecting DUI Costs
The actual costs of a DUI conviction in South Carolina will vary from situation to situation, depending on several factors such as:
- The number of DUI convictions you have had in the past 10 years
- Your BAC level
- How many of your vehicles must have an ignition interlock device installed
- How many of your vehicles must be covered with SR-22 insurance (expensive premium coverage for drivers convicted of DUI)
- Whether you are a commercial vehicle driver
- Whether you are a student
- What your future career, education and financial goals are
Ignition Interlock Devices: Additional Costs Under Emma’s Law
Due to the passage of Emma’s Law in 2014, even first-time offenders now must install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicles if they are convicted of DUI. You must blow into the IID every time you want to start your vehicle for the duration of your license suspension. The IID also takes photos of you when you enter the vehicle.
IIDs cost about $1,000 to install on just one vehicle and about $130 each month for monitoring fees and other expenses. First-time offenders can expect IID costs to add up to over $1,500, and repeat offenders can expect multiple thousands of dollars in costs.
Additional Costs Of DUI Conviction In South Carolina
Fines and IID costs are far from the only monetary costs you will face if convicted of DUI. You may also have to pay for:
- SR-22 high-risk insurance – a substantial increase in your auto insurance premiums
- An alcohol intervention program
Other penalties imposed can also have a direct impact on your income, even though they are not actual fines. Most of the consequences outlined below have one thing in common – they affect your ability to get to work or to get a job that pays well. These additional DUI consequences include:
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation, depending on your BAC level and your number of convictions in the past 10 years
- Commercial driver’s license (CDL) suspension or revocation
- Vehicle immobilization for a period of months for a second offense and above
- Jail time
- A permanent criminal record that cannot be expunged
- A tarnished reputation
- Possible job loss if you are a commercial vehicle driver
- Possible dishonorable discharge or other disciplinary action for military personnel
- Significantly reduced job, education and personal loan prospects
- Scholarship loss and suspension or expulsion from school for students
How Do I Minimize The Cost Of A DUI?
The best way to minimize the cost of a DUI arrest is to act quickly and retain legal counsel. Having the right attorney on your side ensures that you will not be bullied into an unfair plea deal, and that you will have an effective defense advocate if your case goes to trial. While you will end up paying legal fees to your attorney, it’s better to pay this one-time cost to reduce or eliminate the higher, long-term costs that can result if you are convicted of DUI.
Get The Defense You Need From A Reliable DUI Defense Lawyer Serving The Charleston Area
Please call us at 843-352-4149 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation where you will meet directly with an attorney and get answers to all of your questions. Our lawyers have served clients in the Charleston area for decades, so we know what strategies are most effective for minimizing the cost of a DUI.