Imagine you make a terrible mistake and decide to drive after you had too much to drink. One bad decision can ruin lives: your life and the life of the passengers in your vehicle and any other victims. 9 out of 10 times you may be fine, but on this particular night, you come across a DUI checkpoint and you blow over the limit.
What happens next can be inconvenient, and in many cases, outright unfair. The Law Office of Susan E. Williams is here to make sure you know all the options available to you when you experience an alcohol-related incident on the roadway.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- The legal consequences of a DUI
- Why these consequences may not always equal to the severity of the offense
- Your options to resume driving privileges after an alcohol-related incident
It happens every day. People have a few drinks and feel like they’re ok to drive home, before getting pulled over by chance and cited with a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) or Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC).
Maybe you went to meet a friend for dinner and had a couple glasses of wine. Like most people, you would probably feel like there’s no question that you are not impaired and are ok to drive, but should you go through a DUI checkpoint on your way home, you could fail a sobriety test.
No matter what the case is, it’s important to remember that these situations can and do happen every day. Whether you didn’t realize that you were impaired or you felt like you’d get away with driving under the influence, you were pulled over, were just going to drive a mile or so home, were going to follow a friend home, and now you’re in danger of losing your ability to drive.
The Problems with Losing Your License
A driver’s license is something we take for granted, and only when it’s gone do you truly feel the impact on your life. One DUI (Driving Under the Influence) could be all it takes to have your driving ability suspended; one little mistake may cost you big time.
You may not realize it before it happens. But how often do you spontaneously leave to have a drink with a friend, or run to the store for a few things? Maybe you’re cooking dinner and you realize that you’re missing an ingredient you thought you had. Normally, you’d just dash out and pick it up. Without your driver’s license, the things that used to seem easy and effortless now take major planning time.
In South Carolina it is possible for you to lose your driver’s license with a DUI arrest if you refuse the breathalyzer or blow over .15. In other words, you don’t even need to get convicted of a DUI to lose your license. If you refuse to blow or blow over .15, as soon as you’re arrested and charged, you won’t be able to legally drive until your license is reinstated. Even if you have a driver’s license from a state other than SC and your license is suspended in SC, a DUI conviction or arrest can affect your privilege to drive in another state.
You DO Have Options After a DUI
Contrary to popular belief, however, losing your license after an alcohol-related incident isn’t the end of the road, and it’s not a situation you are necessarily stuck with. In many cases, crippling your ability to get to work or school, pick your children up from school and sports events, or even to get groceries to feed your family is not a punishment that fits the crime.
In SC there are ways to regain your privilege to drive, and if you are arrested for DUI and your license is suspended, you should know what options are available to you so that one mistake isn’t able to drastically impact your life.
Here are some options you may be eligible for if your driver’s license is suspended because of a DUI arrest or conviction:
Temporary Alcohol License (TAL)
Some believe that the State of South Carolina suspending someone’s license before being convicted of a crime is unfair. But did you know that there is a way to obtain a driver’s license to use while a DUI charge is pending?
Within 30 days of your DUI arrest, you may be eligible for a temporary alcohol license (TAL). The TAL is a license that has no route restrictions and so you can drive anywhere in the state of South Carolina. (You cannot drive outside the state of SC as a general term of being on bond, unless you get express permission from a judge otherwise).
The cost to apply for an Administrative Law Hearing is $200 and once the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings receives your application, if you are approved, you can go to a DMV and obtain your TAL for a reinstatement fee of $150. You do not need to worry about bringing identification with you such as your social security card or birth certificate because you are already in the system at the DMV.
The TAL is valid up until the time the judge renders a decision at your Administrative Law Court hearing. If you contest the hearing, the decision of the judge will not be made the same day as the hearing. In fact, it may take months or even up to a year for the decision to be rendered.
You can still drive legally with your TAL until the decision is rendered from the Administrative Law Court. If the decision of the Administrative Law Court takes longer than one year, you have to renew your TAL. A TAL is only good for up to a year. A TAL is no longer valid once the decision of the Administrative Law Court is rendered.
If the judge rules in your favor at the Administrative Law Hearing, you will be eligible to get your original driver’s license back that you had prior to the DUI arrest. There is a reinstatement fee for this. Remember, once the decision is rendered, your TAL is no longer valid.
If you the judge does not rule in your favor at the Administrative Law Hearing, you must enroll in the ADSAP program. You can obtain a route restricted license once you show proof to the DMV of your enrollment in the ADSAP program. Remember, once the decision is rendered as a result of the Administrative Law Hearing, your TAL is no longer valid.
You must not only enroll in the ADSAP program, but you must successfully complete the ADSAP program. The cost of the ADSAP program depends on each individual’s alcohol/drug assessment. Some people need more counseling than others. The more classes you attend, the more expensive the cost of the program is. The time length of the program also depends on your individual needs based on the assessment.
Route-Restricted Driver’s License
If the Administrative Law Court upholds your driving license suspension at the hearing you cannot drive unless you obtain a route-restricted driver’s license. Another way this type of driver’s license can be if your driver’s license is suspended for refusing to blow into the breathalyzer or you blow over .15 and you miss the 30 day deadline to request an administrative law hearing. If you are in either of these two situations and you need to drive, you need a route-restricted driver’s license.
This a license that a driver is only allowed to use to and from limited locations. Some examples of limited locations that you could be able to drive include:
- Work and school
- Drug and alcohol counseling sessions
- Court-mandated drug and alcohol treatment
- To/from your house of worship
- To/from court
- To/from your attorney’s office
Your route restricted license will be taken away if the court finds that you’re using it to travel elsewhere or otherwise not following the laws of the road. This license stays in effect until your license suspension is up.
Get the Help You Need After a DUI Arrest
The time immediately after you receive a DUI can be confusing, and you may not be aware of the options available to you in your state for license reinstatement. You may be trying to figure out where your car was towed to.
You may be confused about the instructions on how to request an Administrative Law Hearing. Remember that there is a 30 day deadline from the date of your arrest to request an Administrative Law Hearing. If you miss this deadline, you will not be eligible for an Administrative Law Hearing. You cannot apply for a TAL at the DMV. The specifics of obtaining a Temporary Alcohol License or Route Restricted License is confusing, but an attorney who knows how this process works can walk you through it.
In South Carolina, the Law Office of Susan E. Williams handles DUI cases and helps people obtain driver’s licenses after a driver’s license has been suspended due to DUI. We are here to help you understand your options and sort through this confusing process.