Prior DUI Convictions and enhanced penalties
In South Carolina, if a person is charged with a second, third, fourth or more DUI within ten (10) years of the date of their first DUI conviction, they will be subject to increased criminal penalties including fines, jail time, and license sanctions. Therefore, if a person is convicted of a subsequent DUI during this ten (10) year period, criminal penalties will be enhanced. For example, a first DUI does not carry mandatory jail time but a second DUI requires the defendant serve a minimum of five (5) days in jail. The defendant’s license will be revoked for a minimum of one (1) year if he/she is convicted of a second DUI within ten (10) years of the first DUI conviction..
Having three (3) prior DUI convictions in a lifetime (including convictions in other states) will result in a felony DUI charge. The penalties for a felony DUI conviction in South Carolina are significant. If the defendant has many prior criminal convictions of any kind, a felony DUI could lead to prison time in addition to a mandatory license revocation of one (1) to five (5) years.
Prior DUI Conviction can hurt you in trial
A prior felony DUI conviction or a misdemeanor DUI conviction arising from a crime that involves dishonesty, may be introduced into evidence at trial to impeach the defendant. A crime of dishonesty is something like shoplifting, check fraud, basically any type of crime of theft can be used against you to attack your character and truthfullness. Prior convictions are typically used by the prosecution to have enhanced penalties and fines assessed against you at sentencing. The prosecutor must notify the defendant and court of his/her intent to introduce a prior conviction into evidence.
In most criminal matters, a key way the accused can prevent the admission of a prior conviction in his/her case is to refuse to testify at trial. If the accused chooses to testify, the prosecutor may try and put the accused’s character into question in order to introduce a criminal conviction involving dishonest to impeach the accused’s credibility if the truthfulness of his/her testimony is questioned. Fortunately, a judge may disallow a prior conviction to be introduced as evidence in most cases. The judge will use a balancing test to determine if the prior conviction should be admitted.
Having prior DUI convictions makes it a challenge to negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser charge with a lesser penalty. It is important to hire a Charleston DUI lawyer to represent you.