Is Your Driver’s License Suspended Immediately After a DUI?

is your license suspended immediately after a dui

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in South Carolina, carrying significant consequences that can impact your life in many ways.

One of the most immediate and disruptive consequences happens when the state suspends your driver’s license.

If you’re facing a DUI charge, read on to understand how the process works and how to protect your driving privileges.

South Carolina’s “Implied Consent“ Law

When you obtain a driver’s license in South Carolina, you automatically agree to comply with the state’s implied consent law.

This statute states that when driving on South Carolina roads, you implicitly consent to chemical tests of your breath, blood, or urine if the police suspect you of driving under the influence.

Automatic driver’s license suspension

If you refuse to submit to these tests when an officer has probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence, your license will be automatically suspended for six months.

Separate from criminal DUI charges

This suspension does not include any criminal penalties you may face if convicted of a DUI.

The suspension period for refusing a chemical test increases with each subsequent offense:

  • First offense: 6 months.
  • Second offense: 9 months
  • Third offense: 12 months.
  • Fourth offense: 15 months.

Does not avoid a DUI arrest

It’s important to note that even if you refuse the chemical tests, the police can still arrest and charge you with a DUI based on other evidence, such as field sobriety tests or the officer’s observations.

Refusing the tests simply adds additional penalties related to the implied consent law.

You must understand your rights and the potential consequences of refusing when the police ask you to submit to a chemical test.

Remember, whatever happens, an experienced DUI attorney can help you make good decisions and protect your driving privileges to the fullest extent possible.

License Suspension After Failing Breathalyzer Test

You will fail a breath test if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test reads .15 or greater.

Under these circumstances, S.C Code § 56-5-2951 (I) requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend your driver’s license immediately.

The arresting officer will confiscate your license and provide you with a Notice of Suspension.

Your suspension period for having a BAC of .15 or higher while driving increases with each subsequent offense:

  • First offense: 1 month.
  • Second offense: 2 months
  • Third offense: 3 months.
  • Fourth offense: 4 months.

Your suspension begins the day you’re arrested.

South Carolina Administrative Hearing Process

As mentioned above, violation of the implied consent law provokes an automatic six-month license suspension and at least 30 days with a .15 or higher BAC.

These periods increase for subsequent convictions or implied consent suspensions. You should also note that even if prosecutors drop or dismiss your DUI charges, these suspensions will still stand unless you contest them.

Administrative Proceedings

When you’re arrested for a DUI, the officer will take your physical driver’s license and provide you with a notice of suspension (MV-65), which, if filed with the DMV, will issue you a Temporary Alcohol License (TAL).

This temporary alcohol license allows you to drive while awaiting your administrative hearing, giving you time to challenge the suspension and explore your legal options.

You have the right to request an administrative hearing with the South Carolina Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings (OMVH) to contest suspensions, but you must do so within 30 days of your arrest.

We highly recommend that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney guide you through this process and build a strong case for keeping your license.

What Happens at the Hearing?

An administrative law judge will conduct your hearing.

Prosecutors hold the burden of proof in these hearings, based on a preponderance of the evidence, to prove that it’s more likely than not that you were driving under the influence.

During the hearing, the judge will consider factors such as:

  • Whether there was probable cause for the DUI arrest.
  • If the breathalyzer or blood test was administered properly.
  • The accuracy of the test results.

The judge will decide whether to uphold or dismiss the automatic suspension based on the evidence presented.

Can you get a restricted license during the suspension period?

You may sometimes be eligible for a restricted license during the suspension period.

To qualify, you must:

A restricted license allows you to drive to and from work, school, or ADSAP classes, but it comes with limitations.

An experienced DUI attorney can help you determine your eligibility for a restricted license and guide you through the application process.

Criminal DUI Proceedings and License Suspension

It’s important to remember that the administrative license suspension is separate from any criminal DUI proceedings. If a criminal court convicts of a DUI, you may face additional license suspension, fines, and even jail time.

The length of the criminal suspension depends on factors such as prior offenses and your BAC level at the time of arrest.

The administrative and criminal suspensions may sometimes run concurrently, meaning they overlap.

However, this isn’t always the case, and you may end up serving two separate suspension periods.

Reinstating Your License After a DUI Suspension

Once your suspension period is over, you’ll need to meet specific requirements to reinstate your license:

  • Complete the ADSAP program.
  • Pay all necessary reinstatement fees.
  • Provide proof of SR-22 insurance (if required).

Failing to adhere to these requirements can lead to further complications and extend your time without a valid license.

More on the Impact of a DUI on Your Insurance Rates

A DUI conviction has far-reaching consequences beyond the initial license suspension and legal penalties.

One of the most significant long-term impacts is on your car insurance rates.

  • Insurance companies view DUI convictions as a sign of high-risk behavior, leading to substantially higher premiums.
  • You may be required to obtain SR-22 insurance, a special coverage that proves you meet the state’s minimum liability requirements.
  • The increased rates can last several years, often three to five years after the conviction.

You should work with a DUI attorney to minimize the impact on your insurance rates. Your legal counsel may explore options for reducing the charges or negotiate a plea deal with the state.

In some cases, completing a DUI education program or installing an ignition interlock device demonstrates your commitment to safe driving and potentially lowers your rates.

Out-of-State DUI Convictions and License Suspension

If you’re a South Carolina resident and the police convict you of a DUI in another state, you may wonder how it will affect your driver’s license back home.

In most cases, the South Carolina courts will treat an out-of-state DUI conviction if it occurred in the state.

  • The courts will notify the South Carolina DMV about the out-of-state conviction through the Interstate Driver’s License Compact.
  • Your license will be suspended for the same duration as if the offense had occurred in South Carolina.
  • You must complete the same reinstatement process, including any required ADSAP classes or ignition interlock device installation.

If you’re facing an out-of-state DUI charge, consult with a DUI lawyer who understands the laws of both states and can help you figure out the complex legal process to reinstate your license.

Why You Need a DUI Defense Lawyer in Your Corner

A South Carolina DUI charge and the following automatic license suspension are complicated matters to resolve, but a criminal defense law firm is nearby to help.

The Okoye Law five-star defense team in South Carolina can be your greatest ally, providing invaluable assistance with:

  • Challenging the administrative license suspension.
  • Representing you in criminal DUI proceedings.
  • Helping you obtain a restricted license.
  • Guiding you through the reinstatement process.

The moment the police arrest you for a DUI, the clock starts ticking on your ability to fight the suspension and protect your driving privileges.

Contacting Okoye Law promptly after your arrest makes all the difference in the outcome of your case.

Don’t Let a DUI Derail Your Life – Take Action Now

A DUI arrest in South Carolina often leads to an immediate driver’s license suspension, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the road.

Challenge the suspension, explore options for a restricted license, or work towards getting your life back on track with Okoye Law.

Contact us today for a consultation and case evaluation.

With our guidance and support, you can get past this complex legal process and take steps toward a new beginning.

Author Bio

rock hill criminal defense family and personal injury lawyers

Colin Okoye is the CEO and Managing Partner of Okoye Law, a Rock Hill, SC,  criminal defense, personal injury, and family law firm. With years of experience, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including DUI charges, divorce cases, and car accidents.

Colin received his Juris Doctor from the Charlotte School of Law and is a South Carolina Bar Association member. His previous experience working as an Assistant Public Defender in the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit has equipped him with the necessary skills and knowledge to represent clients in a wide range of cases effectively.

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