The holidays are a time for celebration with family and friends. They are also a time when police and sheriff’s deputies aggressively pull over drivers and seek to arrest them on drunk driving charges. This happens every year in Greenville and throughout South Carolina. And if you had a drink or two at a holiday dinner or party, you could get caught up in this operation.
It does not matter if you have a clean criminal record or if you have a prior DUI conviction. The consequences of an arrest and conviction during the holiday season can affect your pocketbook, your ability to drive, your reputation and even your freedom — even if you did not get into an accident and nobody was hurt.
The penalties you might face
North Carolina divides misdemeanor DUI into five levels of severity, depending on the facts of the offense. The lowest level offense, Level V, carries a jail sentence of at least 24 hours and up to 60 days. The judge can suspend the sentence in exchange for the offender losing their driving privileges for 30 days or completing 24 hours of community service. A conviction can also mean a fine of up to $200.
These punishments go all the way to Level I, which carries a mandatory jail sentence of between 30 days and two years. The judge cannot suspend the sentence for Level I and II offenses, so you will be serving jail time if convicted. Not a happy way to spend part of your holiday season.
Know your options
Getting arrested is not proof you are guilty, and there may be several things you and your defense attorney can do. It may be possible to get the prosecutor to drop or at least reduce the changes in a plea bargain. And you might get your driver’s license back within a shorter time frame. But you may never know your options if you don’t speak with a defense lawyer.