Top-Rated DUI Lawyer in Charleston, South Carolina

Get a Free Consultation

843.284.5500

Give Us Your Problems.
We’ll Give You Solutions.

Top-Rated
DUI Lawyer
in Charleston, South Carolina

Get a Free Consultation

Give Us Your Problems.
We’ll Give You Solutions.

Top-Rated DUI Lawyer
in Charleston, South Carolina

Get a Free Consultation

Give Us Your Problems.
We’ll Give You Solutions.

dui & DUAC Defense

There’s NOTHING simple about DUI or DUAC. That’s OK. The more complicated a charge may be, the more ways a DUI lawyer from our firm has to defend you.

 

felony dui defense

Your freedom is what matters most to us. Don’t gamble with your future when you can hire a top-rated DUI defense lawyer in Charleston from our firm.

 

bui defense

Boating under the influence (BUI) has different sobriety tests, laws, and penalties than a DUI. If you’ve been arrested while boating in the Lowcountry, hire a Charleston BUI attorney.

DUI Lawyers in Charleston
With the Drive to Win

Our Charleston Lawyers Have Over 55 Combined Years of Experience with DUI Defense

Get a Free DUI Case Review

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Charleston, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, or the surrounding areas, you’re probably worried about your license, your job or school, and your future. Let a Charleston DUI attorney from Futeral & Nelson help you get back on the road. Stephan Futeral and Thomas Nelson have over 30 years of combined experience defending drivers who’ve been arrested for DUI. Meet with a top-rated Charleston DUI defense attorney from Futeral & Nelson for FREE and find out why we’re the right defense team for you.

Affordable Payment Plans

Facing a DUI is expensive enough without being charged a fortune for your defense. Hiring a DUI attorney from Futeral & Nelson is more affordable than you might think. Also, we offer payment plans and discounts for law enforcement, military, and firefighters. Call a Charleston, SC DUI lawyer from Futeral & Nelson today for a FREE and confidential meeting. We’ll cover everything you need to know to keep you on the road and your record clean. In the meantime, please download our free book on DUI in South Carolina. In our book, you’ll find answers to many of your questions about what to expect and how to challenge your DUI.

Our DUI Defense Services – Free Consultation

We strive to be the best at what we do. That’s why our law firm is top-rated (AV) by Martindale-Hubbell, Charleston DUI lawyer Stephan Futeral is rated 10 (Superb) by AVVO, Charleston DUI attorney Thomas Nelson is one of Super Lawyers Rising Stars. He is also a member of the National College of DUI Defense. Stephan and Thomas are both members of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Criminal Trial Lawyers. This is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state in the nation who meet stringent qualifications as criminal defense trial lawyers. Also, clients endorse us with 5 stars ★★★★★ on Google Reviews for cases including:

  1. DUI 1st Offense
    • Our lawyers have decades of experience helping drivers defend and beat DUI 1st Offense charges in South Carolina.
  2. DUI 2nd oFFENSE & HIGHER
    • The greater the offense, the greater the consequences. No matter what DUI charges you may be facing, our lawyers can keep you on the road and out of jail.
  3. duac
    • DUAC is similar to the charge of DUI. The main difference is that to be convicted for DUAC, the prosecution must prove you were operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater. We can challenge the results of your blood alcohol test.
  4. boating under the influence
    • BUI has a different set of rules and procedures than DUI. Let us put our decades of BUI defense experience to work for you.
  5. Felony dui
    • Defending a felony DUI is much more challenging, and the stakes are higher, than defending a DUI 1st. You need a top-rated DUI attorney from our firm to keep you from serving time in jail.
  6. habitual offender
    • We help drivers who’ve lost their license because the SC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) declared them to be a Habitual Traffic Offender.

Frequently Asked Questions About DUI in South Carolina

Can You Lose Your License for DUI 1st in South Carolina?

 Technically, you are suspended for 6 months for a DUI 1st offense. However, if you didn’t refuse the breathalyzer and didn’t blow a 0.15% or higher on the breath machine, you can likely get a “provisional license,” which has no restrictions in South Carolina, and you can drive on this license during the 6-month suspension period. In other words, you won’t feel the effect of the suspension except at the very beginning while the DMV and ADSAP process their paperwork. Even if you don’t qualify for the provisional license, you can still end the suspension by enrolling in the Ignition Interlock Device Program and installing the device in your car during the 6-month period.

How Long Does a DUI Case Take in South Carolina?

It depends on the court. The first court date usually comes within a month or two of the arrest. If the DUI is contested, some courts take care of them within a few months, while some can go well over a year.

Can a DUI Be Expunged From My Record in South Carolina?

Under current expungement laws in South Carolina, a DUI cannot be expunged at any point in the future.

Can I Get a DUI if I Refused the Breathalyzer Test in South Carolina?

Yes. While blood-alcohol concentration is one piece of evidence that can be used to convict you, even if you don’t have to give a breath sample, police can still submit other forms of evidence. Some examples are testimony of odor of alcohol or slurred speech, descriptions or video of failed field sobriety tests, and admissions to drinking by the defendant.

Is a DUI a Felony in South Carolina?

No, a DUI 1st offense is not a felony. However, if the DUI causes serious bodily injury or death, it can, and likely will, be charged as a felony. For more information, read our article about Felony DUI in South Carolina.

Does a South Carolina DUI Show on a Background Check?

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) maintains criminal backgrounds. If you are arrested and fingerprinted, then the charge will likely show up on your SLED record. In some instances, if your DUI is rewritten to a charge for Driving with Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC), then there are no fingerprints that are associated with the DUAC ticket, and SLED won’t report it. However, more and more courts are implementing additional paperwork that does away with this loophole so that the DUAC still shows up on the SLED record.

How Many Driving Points is a DUI in South Carolina?

A DUI does not carry any points. It has its own set of rules that govern whether you get suspended, so points don’t matter with DUI.

How Much Does SR-22 Insurance Cost?

This number is not created by the courts. It’s created by the insurance companies, and their quotes are based on a series of factors and not just the fact that someone is convicted of DUI. So, we can’t quote the insurance companies. What we generally tell clients is to be prepared for your insurance rates to triple, and if the premium is any lower, they should consider it a bonus.

Can You Get Pretrial Intervention (PTI) for DUI in South Carolina?

No. DUI’s and other driving offenses under Title 56 of our Code of Laws are excluded from PTI eligibility.

Is There a Statute of Limitations for DUI in South Carolina?

Technically, the answer is no. However, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for law enforcement to successfully prosecute for a DUI if you are not either caught either in the act or within a few hours of your driving. We have seen situations where a person drives away from an accident thinking they can sober up before they are caught. Unfortunately for these people, they can still be charged with leaving the scene of an accident, which can still carry stiff jail sentences if someone was seriously injured or killed.

How Long Does ASAP Take in South Carolina?

ADSAP (South Carolina Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program) initially schedules you for an assessment. At the assessment, they determine how long you will be in the program. The most common plan we see requires the following: an enrollment, an assessment, and then one class a week for eight weeks. Sometimes, a person may be required to go for 12 or more weeks. We have seen instances where a person goes on both Saturdays and Sundays, so they go twice a week but cut the total time in half. We cannot give any firm answers to this question because it is completely in ADSAP’s hands.

Can You Get a Provisional License for a DUI in South Carolina?

If you submitted a breath sample of less than 0.15% and it is your first offense for DUI within the last 10 years, then you likely qualify for a provisional license. If you are convicted of a DUI with a refusal, a DUI with a breath sample of 0.15% or higher, or a DUI 2nd offense or greater, then you will not qualify for a provisional license. Except in extreme cases, even without a provisional license, you can likely keep driving if you install an Ignition Interlock Device in your vehicle.

What is Driving With An Unlawful Alcohol Concentration in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, it is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while his alcohol concentration is eight one-hundredths of one percent or more. The prosecution has the choice of convicting a driver for a DUI (proof of impairment which may include proof of BAC) or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration also known as DUAC (proof of BAC .08 or greater and the driver is guilty).

Does My DUI Arrest Have to Be Video Recorded in South Carolina?

South Carolina law requires officers making DUI arrests in Charleston and elsewhere to videotape the subject’s conduct at the scene of the stop, including any field sobriety tests administered.  If the video is not provided or doesn’t contain everything it’s supposed to, it can result in a dismissal of the DUI! The one exception to the videotaping is rule is when the arresting officer submits an affidavit certifying that the video recording equipment was in inoperable condition and that reasonable effort was made to maintain the equipment.

What are Field Sobriety Tests in South Carolina?

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is a series of three tests developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  The three tests are:

  1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

    Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) is an involuntary jerking of the eyeball which occurs naturally as the eyes gaze to the side. Under normal circumstances, nystagmus occurs when the eyes are rotated at high peripheral angles. However, when a person is impaired by alcohol, nystagmus is exaggerated and may occur at lesser angles. An alcohol-impaired person will also often have difficulty smoothly tracking a moving object. In the HGN test, the officer observes the eyes of a suspect as the suspect follows a slowly moving object such as a pen or small flashlight, horizontally with his eyes.

  2. Walk-and-Turn

    In the walk-and-turn test, the subject is directed to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. After taking the steps, the suspect must turn on one foot and return in the same manner in the opposite direction. The examiner looks for seven indicators of impairment: 1) if the suspect cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions, 2) begins before the instructions are finished, 3) stops while walking to regain balance, 4) does not touch heel-to-toe, 5) uses arms to balance, 6) loses balance while turning, or 7) takes an incorrect number of steps. NHTSA research indicates that 68 percent of individuals who exhibit two or more indicators in the performance of the test will have a BAC of 0.10 or greater.

  3. One-Leg Stand

    In the one-leg stand test, the suspect is instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud until told to put the foot down. The officer times the subject for 30 seconds. The officer looks for four indicators of impairment, including 1) swaying while balancing, 2) using arms to balance, 3) hopping to maintain balance, and 4) putting their foot down.

Are Field Sobriety Tests Reliable in South Carolina?

Not always. Field sobriety “tests” (FST’s) have been used by South Carolina law enforcement officers to identify drivers who are impaired by alcohol. Yet, in a study conducted by two scientists at Clemson University, officers misidentified 32% of individuals in a laboratory setting as being above the “legal limit” when these individuals actually were sober! If these are supposed to be actual “tests,” then why were these police officers mistaken 32% of the time?  Essentially, the “tests” are unfamiliar and they aren’t easy to do without practice. To a police officer who has demonstrated the tests many times before, the tests may seem easy to do. Likewise, to a casual observer, the tests may seem straightforward. However, when a sober, untrained person performs the tests, they oftentimes discover that the tests aren’t as easy as they look and that an untrained person doesn’t always have the motor skills to perform the tests properly.

Does South Carolina Have Interlock Laws?

First-time DUI offenders who had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or greater will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for 6 months. People convicted of a 2nd DUI or DUAC are required to install the device for 2 years.

What Happens If I Blow "Hard" While Taking a Breath Test in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, the breath testing device is the DMT Datamaster. According to the DMT Datamaster’s Owner’s Manual, the “best breath sample is produced by a continuous exhalation. It does not need to be a hard blow . . . .” Essentially, the DMT Datamaster’s programming is designed to read from a “smooth exhalation,” not a hard burst of air. Further, the manual warns the operator – “Do not tell the subject to blow ‘hard'”.

Should I Plea to Reckless Driving in South Carolina?

A common DUI negotiation in South Carolina results in the defendant pleading to reckless driving, along with some other stipulations such as alcohol classes. What some people, and even some lawyers, don’t know, is that a reckless driving plea can result in serious consequences against the person’s driver’s license. For example, if a South Carolina driver receives two reckless driving convictions in a 5-year span, that driver will receive a 90-day suspension of his driving privileges. The driver will not be eligible for a route-restricted or provisional license. Also, the driver will have to carry SR-22 insurance for 3 years in order to drive after the suspension is over. Therefore, a person charged with DUI should be sure their lawyer knows of any previous criminal convictions or traffic offenses they received in the past 5 years.

Can I Be Forced to Give a Blood Sample in a SC DUI?

South Carolina law permits law enforcement to draw a blood sample from a suspect in a felony DUI case (meaning the impaired driver caused death or great bodily injury). Also, in misdemeanor DUI cases, law enforcement can obtain a blood sample where the person is unable to provide a breath sample because the person (1) is unconscious, (2) is dead, (3) has an injured mouth, or (4) for any other reason considered acceptable by licensed medical personnel.

How Can You Challenge Breath Test Results in South Carolina?

One way to challenge the Datamaster results is through a “Landon” motion. If you can show the existence of malfunctions, repairs, complaints, or other problems regarding the Datamaster machine that occurred close in time to when the driver took the test, then the defense may be entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the admissibility of the breath results. At this hearing, the prosecution must then prove that the machine was working properly at the time of the test. However, the fact that the machine registers a series of self-checks every time a test is run may constitute enough evidence that the machine was working properly if enough tests were run between the time of the problem with the machine and the time of the driver’s test. In all, knowing what records to look for regarding the Datamaster, how to understand and interpret those records, and how to properly make a “Landon” motion is a vital part of any DUI defense.

Get Our Free Book on DUI Defense in South Carolina

Based on over 50 years of their combined experience defending DUI’s in Charleston and elsewhere in South Carolina, Stephan Futeral and Thomas Nelson wrote this free ebook – DUI in South Carolina – Piecing It All Together. In the book, Stephan and Thomas help you understand more about the laws and defense against DUI and to explain your rights in easy-to-understand terms.

In this informative and insightful guide for drivers, you’ll find information covering DUI and Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC) law; your rights before, during, and after arrest; administrative implied consent hearings; license suspension; field sobriety tests; the DMT DataMaster breath test machine; blood tests; penalties & costs for a DUI; preparing for court; how to be an effective witness; and much more. If you are charged with a DUI, then this book is a “must-read.”

How Many Drinks Does It Take to Reach the Legal Limit in SC?

Under South Carolina law, the legal BA (blood/alcohol) limits are:

(1) Less than .05 – It is conclusively presumed that the person was not under the influence of alcohol.

(2) Greater than .05 but less than .08 – No inference whether the person was under the influence of alcohol, but that fact may be considered with other evidence in determining the guilt or innocence of the person.

(3) Greater than .08 – It may be inferred that the person was under the influence of alcohol.

Whether you’re over the limit depends on whether you’re male or female, your weight, the types of drinks you had, how drinks, and over what time period you drank. To help you estimate whether you’ve consumed too much alcohol to operate your vehicle, we’ve prepared these handy charts for you to get an approximate idea. As you can see from the charts below, it doesn’t take many drinks for an average-sized female (2 to 3 drinks) or an average-sized male (3 to 4 drinks) to reach the legal limit in South Carolina!

FEMALES (.08 legal limit / < .05 presumed OK)

Number of Drinks

Body Weight 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
90 lb .053 .106 .159 .212 .265 .318 .371 .424 .477 .530 .583 .636
100 lbs .047 .094 .141 .188 .235 .282 .329 .376 .423 .470 .517 .564
110 lbs .042 .084 .126 .168 .210 .252 .294 .336 .378 .420 .482 .504
120 lbs .038 .076 .114 .152 .190 .228 .266 .304 .342 .380 .418 .456
130 lbs .036 .072 .108 .144 .180 .216 .228 .252 .324 .360 .396 .432
140 lbs .033 .066 .099 .132 .165 .198 .231 .264 .297 .330 .363 .396
150 lbs .031 .062 .093 .124 .155 .186 .217 .248 .279 .310 .341 .372
160 lbs .028 .056 .084 .112 .140 .168 .196 .224 .252 .280 .308 .336
170 lbs .027 .054 .081 .108 .135 .162 .189 .216 .243 .270 .297 .324
180 lbs .025 .052 .078 .104 .130 .156 .182 .208 .234 .260 .286 .312
190 lbs .025 .050 .075 .100 .125 .150 .175 .200 .225 .250 .275 .300
200 lbs .023 .046 .069 .092 .115 .138 .161 .184 .207 .230 .253 .276
210 lbs .022 .044 .066 .088 .110 .132 .154 .176 .198 .220 .242 .264

MALES  (.08 legal limit / <.05 presumed OK)
Number of Drinks
Body Weight 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
100 lb .038 .075 .113 .150 .188 .225 .263 .300 .338 .375 ..413 .450
110 lbs .034 .066 .103 .137 .172 .207 .241 .275 .309 .344 .379 .412
120 lbs .031 .063 .094 .125 .156 .188 .219 .250 .281 .313 .344 .375
130 lbs .029 .058 .087 .116 .145 .174 .203 .232 .261 .290 .320 .348
140 lbs .027 .054 .080 .107 .134 .161 .188 .214 .241 .268 .295 .321
150 lbs .025 .050 .075 .100 .125 .151 .176 .201 .226 .251 .276 .301
160 lbs .023 .047 .070 .094 .117 .141 .164 .188 .211 .234 .258 .281
170 lbs .022 .045 .066 .088 .110 .132 .155 .178 .200 .221 .244 .265
180 lbs .021 .042 .063 .083 .104 .125 .146 .167 .188 .208 .229 .250
190 lbs .020 .040 .059 .079 .099 .119 .138 .158 .179 .198 .217 .237
200 lbs .019 .038 .056 .075 .094 .113 .131 .150 .169 .188 .206 .225
210 lbs .018 .036 .053 .071 .090 .107 .125 .143 .161 .179 .197 .214
220 lbs .017 .034 .051 .068 .085 .102 .119 .136 .153 .170 .188 .205
230 lb .016 .032 .049 .065 .081 .098 .115 .130 .147 .163 .180 .196
240 lb .016 .031 .047 .063 .078 .094 .109 .125 .141 .156 .172 .188

 

BAC Elimination Over Time

Number of Drinks Consumed in 1 Hour

Body Weight 1 2 3 4 5
1 Drink = 1 Jigger (1¼ oz.) of 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. beer, or 4 oz. wine.Average Elimination = .015% per hour.08 legal limit; <.05 presumed OK
100 lb .038 .075 .113 .150 .188
120 lbs .031 .063 .094 .125 .156
140 lbs .027 .054 .080 .107 .134
160 lbs .023 .047 .070 .094 .117
180 lbs .021 .042 .063 .083 .104
200 lbs .019 .038 .056 .075 .094

 

BAC Elimination Over Time

Number of Drinks Consumed in 3 Hours

Body Weight 1 2 3 4 5
1 Drink = 1 Jigger (1¼ oz.) of 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. beer, or 4 oz. wine.Average Elimination = .015% per hour.08 legal limit; <.05 presumed OK
100 lb .008 .045 .083 .120 .158
120 lbs .001 .033 .064 .095 .126
140 lbs .000 .024 .050 .077 .104
160 lbs .000 .017 .040 .074 .087
180 lbs .000 .012 .033 .053 .074
200 lbs .000 .008 .026 .045 .064

 

How Many Drinks Does It Take to Reach the Legal Limit in SC?

Under South Carolina law, the legal BA (blood/alcohol) limits are:

(1) Less than .05 – It is conclusively presumed that the person was not under the influence of alcohol.

(2) Greater than .05 but less than .08 – No inference whether the person was under the influence of alcohol, but that fact may be considered with other evidence in determining the guilt or innocence of the person.

(3) Greater than .08 – It may be inferred that the person was under the influence of alcohol.

Whether you’re over the limit depends on whether you’re male or female, your weight, the types of drinks you had, how drinks, and over what time period you drank. It doesn’t take many drinks for an average-sized female (2 to 3 drinks) or an average-sized male (3 to 4 drinks) to reach the legal limit in South Carolina!

Recent South Carolina DUI Defense Articles

Call Now ButtonCALL NOW
Futeral & Nelson 843-284-5500 1004 Anna Knapp Blvd.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
Give Us Your Problems. We'll Give You Solutions.