Drivers are sure to have questions when they see the lights of a police car flashing in their rear-view mirror. If they have been drinking, those questions become more pressing. Will a breath test say that they are over the legal limit? Will they be arrested? More than that, what will happen if they are found guilty of drunk driving?
What does South Dakota consider to be “under the influence”?
In order to be charged with driving under the influence (DUI), the authorities must show that their blood alcohol content (BAC) was over the legal limit. Drivers under the age of 21 can receive a DUI for a BAC as low as 0.02 percent because the state has zero tolerance for drivers who cannot drink legally. Drivers behind the wheel of a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle cannot have a BAC higher than 0.04 percent. For most other drivers, BAC of 0.08 percent or more will result in DUI charges.
What are the penalties for a DUI conviction?
If you are found guilty of drunk driving, the penalties you face will depend on several factors including whether you have previous DUI charges on your record.
If you have been convicted of a DUI for the first time, your license will be revoked for 30 days. This revocation may last for up to one year. You may also be required to spend up to one year in jail and pay a fine of up to $2000.
For your second offense, penalties become more severe. Penalties will include up to one year in jail, up to $2000 in fines and at least one year of license revocation. Repeat offenders may also be ordered to enroll in a treatment program.
Drivers with two or more prior DUI convictions in the past ten years will be charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor. Their license will be revoked for at least one year, they could spend up to two years in prison and they will be required to pay thousands of dollars in fines. Fourth offenses can be punished with fines of up to $10000, up to five years in jail and license revocation for at least two years.
Can you protect yourself against these charges?
If you have been charged with a DUI in South Dakota, it is possible to defend your rights. An attorney can help you build a legal strategy and work to have the charges against you reduced or dropped. With experienced legal counsel, you can keep drunk driving charges from having a lifelong impact on your reputation, your finances and your freedom.