Call Today 803.359.3301
Defending DUI Charges Contact Our Firm for Dedicated, Aggressive Defense.

South Carolina DUI Defense

Facing a DUI Arrest? You’ve Come to the Right Place.

We are here to help after a DUI arrest. We know you have questions, and after helping hundreds of individuals with a variety of situations we are here to get you answers. No DUI case is ever hopeless. There are a variety of legal defenses and techniques that can give anyone a chance at avoiding a conviction regardless of the facts and circumstances of their arrest.

Our DUI defense lawyers want to help you:

  • Restore and preserve your driver’s license
  • Avoid jail time
  • Prevent a conviction
  • Not face SR-22 Insurance & ADSAP

When you contact our office for a free consultation, you’ll meet one on one with an experienced Lexington DUI attorney. You’ll have a chance to explain your situation, and your specific concerns, and ask any questions that you have. We’ve seen over and over the relief people feel after learning their legal rights to try to fight a DUI arrest. No case is hopeless, including refusals or ones with high BAC readings. If your license was taken by the police officer, we can help restore it, usually within just a few business days.

DUI Charges Can Be Beaten

Put Our Experience to Work for You

Driving under the influence, or DUI, is a serious criminal offense in South Carolina. All defendants charged with any level of DUI have important rights which come into play as soon as they are pulled over or approached by law enforcement. At the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, located in Lexington, South Carolina, we represent those charged with DUI and other South Carolina Criminal Offenses. When we are retained to defend someone charged with DUI every case undergoes a multi-step process by our office to ensure that our client's rights are protected.

Is it legal to drink and drive in South Carolina?

Yes. Under South Carolina law it is legal to drink alcoholic beverages and drive. In fact many DUI trials will begin by the judge instructing the jury of this fact. It is however illegal to drive while impaired. While many DUI arrests occur because someone told the police that they had been drinking, the law requires that there be evidence of actual impairment.

Did the police actually observe you driving?

Many DUI arrests occur after law enforcement finds someone "sleeping it off". These arrests happen even in situations were the car has been safely pulled off the road or is in a parking lot. South Carolina law holds that driving a motor vehicle requires actual movement. Simply sitting in a parked car (even with the engine running) isn't considered driving. If you weren't actually observed driving by the police, then your DUI case may be eligible to be dismissed.

What is the legal definition of DUI in South Carolina?

In order to be convicted of DUI the prosecution must prove that you were 1) driving; 2) a motor vehicle; 3) while materially and appreciably impaired. DUI isn't tied to any blood alcohol level. It does however require evidence that the driver's ability to drive was limited in some substantive way by alcohol or drugs. Many DUI arrests occur based on an officer's opinion, only later to have the Court later determine that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the charge.

Did the police officer have a legally justifiable reason to stop our client?

If the police did not have legal grounds to initiate a traffic stop then their entire case is in jeopardy.

Did the police follow proper techniques in establishing a license check or roadblock?

In a police roadblock all cars, or a regular pattern, are stopped. If the police did not follow roadblock law then the stops are illegal and their entire case is in jeopardy.

Were field sobriety tests administered by law enforcement?

Many times police will request that a driver cooperate with field sobriety tests such as the one legged stand, walk and turn or an eye examination (called an HGN test). These tests are not designed to screen out sober drivers, they are designed to provide evidence to substantiate a DUI arrest. Nonstandard tests, such as alphabet recitation, and finger counting, may not be admissible in trial. Standard tests not administered in strict compliance with legal requirements also should not be admissible in trial.

Did law enforcement properly record the roadside encounter?

In order to protect citizen's rights against false DUI charges South Carolina law requirements that the police videotape all DUI arrests beginning with the activation of the officer's blue lights. You don't know if the police did or did not follow these procedures until you file a formal demand for a copy of the video with the DUI Court. We make this request in all of our DUI cases.

Did the police give Miranda and the implied consent rights at the appropriate time?

South Carolina law provides a "foolproof" formula for police to follow when making a DUI arrest. Many times though officer's who don't understand the law, or who choose to disregard it, fail to comply with the legal requirements when making a DUI arrest.

Was a breathalyzer test offered?

There are legal requirements that must be followed for the administration of a breathalyzer test. It must be done within a certain period of time after a DUI arrest. The equipment must be in proper working order and correctly calibrated. Detailed legal rights much be provided to the defendant orally and in writing, and further this procedure must be videotaped.

Can the prosecution establish legal impairment?

In South Carolina it is not against the law to drink alcohol and then drive an automobile. Whether or not someone is legally DUI is not a decision that can ever be made solely by law enforcement. If the police do not have enough evidence to prove someone was legally impaired then we demand our client's case should be dismissed or a not-guilty verdict returned.

Our Multi-Step Process for DUI Defense Includes

  • A detailed interview of our client and any witnesses to the arrest
  • Filing a formal demand for copies of all legally relevant evidence with the prosecution
  • A thorough review of the arrest procedures to ensure the police acted lawfully and our client's rights were maintained
  • Filing motions with the Court to suppress evidence or even dismiss the charges prior to trial
  • Representation in Department of Motor Vehicle implied consent hearings, when our client's license is at risk due to a refusal to cooperate with the breathalyzer or testing over a 0.15 BAC;
  • Appearance with our client at all pre-trial conferences, trial and other Court dates;
  • Advocacy during the DUI trial process where all aspects of the State's case are challenged and tested before the Court;

If you have been charged with any DUI offense the first step in obtaining our help is to call for a confidential consultation with a Lexington DUI Defense Attorney. When you come for your appointment be sure to bring a copy of your ticket and all other paperwork you received from law enforcement or Bond Court. During your consultation, we will discuss the details of your arrest along with any available factual or legal defenses. You will also have a chance to ask any questions you might have about South Carolina DUI law and Court procedures.

Appointments are scheduled in our office located at 123 Harmon Street in downtown Lexington. Cases are accepted in Lexington County, Richland County, and throughout South Carolina. There is no charge for your first in-person meeting with a lawyer. For those unable to meet with us in person we also offer fee-based telephone consultations.

Why Choose Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC?

  • James Snell is the author of the book “South Carolina DUI Defense: The Law and Practice”, published by Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company.
  • We have successfully helped over 400 area residents charged with DUI avoid a conviction. We are regularly appearing in all area DUI courts in Lexington, Columbia and surrounding areas.
  • All of our attorneys have completed training pursuant to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration curriculum in the area of DUI Detection & Field Sobriety Testing, as well as drug-based DUI in the course Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE).
  • James Snell has argued DUI law before the state’s Court of Appeals, creating legal precedent and defenses that apply in every DUI case in the state (including yours today!)
  • All of our attorneys are members of the National College for DUI Defense, and have completed its intensive Summer Session held at the Harvard Law School
  • James Snell has presented continuing legal education material to South Carolina magistrate judges in the field of DUI law
  • Although no lawyer can ever promise a specific outcome, we believe that if your DUI case is not dismissed or otherwise resolved to your satisfaction, it should be fully contested in court.
  • James Snell has completed training in the operation of the Datamaster DMT, the breath test device used by law enforcement throughout South Carolina
  • We can file the paperwork necessary to challenge a DUI arrest and restore a license fast! Typically, the same business day we are hired (so you can legally get back on the road as quickly as possible).

DUI Cases We Handle

Depending on your charge, you may lose your legal right to fully challenge your case as early as ten days after your arrest. Call us right away to request a case evaluation with a DUI attorney in Lexington.

South Carolina DUI Penalties

The penalties for those convicted for first-time DUI in South Carolina are dependent on the blood alcohol content (BAC) that police are able to establish in court. Typically, the police obtain the BAC level from the reading provided by the breathalyzer machine.

According to South Carolina DUI Law (S.C. Code §56-5-2930)


  • A fine of approximately $992 or imprisonment for no less than 48 hours or more than 30 days


  • A fine of approximately $1,227 or imprisonment for not less than 72 hours of more than 30 days


  • A fine of approximately $2,480 or imprisonment for not less than 30 days or more than 90 days

The penalties continue to escalate for repeat offenders, and by the time individuals reach their fourth offense the maximum penalties include a mandatory three to seven-year imprisonment.
In addition to the criminal penalties, there are also the administrative penalties. These include:

  • Mandatory license suspensions
  • High insurance rates
  • Costly expensive alcohol and drug education course
  • A suspended commercial driver's license

What about reckless driving reductions?

Many people think that they will automatically receive a reduction to reckless driving. While it may have been true 20+ years ago that many 1st offense DUI defendants easily received that type of offer, law enforcement takes these cases much more seriously today. As a result, most DUI defendants do not receive this type of offer (instead the common “reduction” is to a DUAC, which is almost exactly like a DUI).

While many of our clients want to obtain a reduction to reckless driving (there are several significant benefits), it’s not appropriate for every client or in every circumstance. When appropriate (and at our client’s direction), we even turn down reckless driving offers to seek a more favorable outcome.

Possible Companion Charges

If you have been charged with a DUI, there may be other charges that accompany your offense. There are several charges that may accompany a DUI and may be prosecuted at the same time. These may include:

  • Open Container
  • Leaving the Scene \ Hit & Run
  • Child endangerment
  • Driving under suspension
  • Failure to stop for a blue light
  • Resisting arrest
  • Drug Possession

These companion charges may serve to substantially increase the prospective jail times and/or fines you face. Some may include an additional driver's license suspension period.

How Many Drinks Can I Have and Still Legally Drive?

There is no definite answer to the question, "How many drinks can you have and still legally drive in South Carolina?" This is because the answer is unique to each individual and each circumstance, taking into account factors like weight, sex, age, type of drink, food eaten, and time of day. South Carolina DUI law is based on the concept of making driving impaired illegal. This means that DUI is not based on any specific amount of alcohol in your system, but rather how the alcohol affects your driving ability.

Although it is not against the law to drink and then drive in South Carolina, the only way to guarantee that you remain legally able to drive is to refrain from drinking and driving. Many individuals are arrested after police believed that they were impaired when they thought they were safe to drive. Because of this, many individuals who voluntarily take the breathalyzer score higher than they anticipate. For this reason, we typically advise individuals who have been drinking to refuse to take a breathalyzer test.

Administrative License Suspension in South Carolina

If you refused the police officer's request to submit to a breath sample or if you submitted and registered a 0.15 or higher, your license will be suspended for a period of six months or longer. This is in addition to any suspension that you may incur as a result of your DUI charge. If you allow this suspension to stand, you will also be required to register and complete an alcohol course called ADSAP prior to ever regaining your license. This is due to South Carolina's implied consent law.

To protect our client's rights, we file a request to challenge the implied consent suspension with the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings (OMVH). We normally can do this the same day we are hired (or first thing the following morning, depending on what time we’re hired). We have a runner deliver the necessary paperwork to the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings to avoid mail delays and ensure the quickest delivery.

Within just a few days of this request being received, you will be eligible to receive an unrestricted license allowing to you drive anywhere in South Carolina. This license is not route restricted, and no interlock device, SR-22 insurance or ADSAP course is required. This license remains in-effect until the decision is made by the Office of Motor Vehicles about the suspension request.

Contact Us Today

If you are a loved on is facing DUI charges and need the help of a qualified DUI lawyer in Lexington, SC, contact our office at (803)359-3301.

Former Client Experiences

  • “You are down to earth, easily approachable, and simply a refuge in an awful time of hardship. You have integrity, humility, and a wonderful way with those of us who have made mistakes.”

    Former Client

  • “Thank you so much for handling my case for me. Since the first moment I talked with you I felt a sense of relief. I knew I had found a true professional, how relieved I was every step of the way. I will never forget your help.”

    Former Client

  • “I would highly recommend Mr. Snell, should you be seeking legal counsel in SC.”

    Former Client

  • “The entire process from beginning to end left me with a high level of reassurance and relief.”

    Stu W.

  • “Thanks to you and your staff, a heavy burden has been lifted off my shoulders, and I can't thank you enough.”

    Former Client

  • Best of Lexington Life for 2020
  • Super Lawyers
  • Premium Rating
  • 10.0 Superb Avvo Rating - Top Attorney Criminal Defense
  • Better Business Bureau - Accredited Business
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyers - The National Trial Lawyers
  • 10.0 Superb Avvo Rating - Top Attorney DUI

Stay Updated

  • What to Do If You're in a Car Accident in South Carolina

    Unfortunately, car accidents are very common events and you’d have a hard time finding someone over the age of 40 who hasn’t been in one, if not ...

    View More
  • How Are My Auto Insurance Rates Determined?

    If you’re like most people, you know that one factor that affects auto insurance rates is a person’s driving record. Things like speeding tickets, ...

    View More
  • Loss of Consortium Claims in South Carolina

    Imagine a young couple gets married with big plans to start a family. They want to have four or five children and after a long engagement, they’re ...

    View More

Get Started Today

We're Available to Schedule Immediate, Same-Day Consultations
  • Please enter your name.
  • This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.