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Police arrest South Carolina driver after alcohol-related crash

A South Carolina man was arrested and taken to jail after an alcohol-related traffic accident just after midnight on April 29. According to police, the 55-year-old driver hit another vehicle at the 1800 block of Huger Street, and then tried to leave the scene.

After failing the field sobriety test officers administered, he was arrested on DUI first offense and hit and run charges. At first glance it would seem the man would receive a lighter sentence because this was a first offense. In South Carolina a DWI first offense incurs a $400 fine, no more than 30 days in jail and a six-month license suspension. But the driver allegedly made a bad situation worse by attempting to flee the scene.

When the case goes to court the judge may make the sentence tougher because of the driver's apparent actions. Drunk driving is taken so seriously in the state of South Carolina that in 2012 legislators strengthened the DUI laws to allow the courts to count DUI arrests in other states as previous convictions.

The April arrest may have been a first in South Carolina for this driver, but if any DUIs from elsewhere surface in the investigation the penalties will be harsher. A second offense within 10 years brings a fine of between $2,100 and $5,100 and up to 12 months in prison, and a third offense means a fine of $3,800 to $6,300 and a maximum three-year prison sentence.

South Carolina lawmakers are considering even tougher measures. A bill is being debated that would require drivers convicted of a first DUI and having with a BAC level of 0.12 or higher to install ignition interlocks on their cars. Drivers arrested on DUI charges stand to lose earned income if they miss time from work because of a jail sentence in addition to facing a hefty fine. Anyone finding themselves in this kind of situation may want to consider hiring a DUI attorney to help them get their life back in order.

Source: The State, Man charged with DUI in Columbia hit-and-run, John Monk, April 30, 2013

WLTX, "SC Senate Debating Tougher DUI Law," Robert Kittle, Feb. 26, 2013

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