State representative has one of two DUI charges dropped

South Carolina Rep. Ted Vick has had one DUI charge dropped against him, but he still faces another one dating back to a 2012 drunk driving arrest.

According to The State, one of the two drunk driving charges against South Carolina state Rep. Ted Vick has been dropped. The public official, who is from Chesterfield, was arrested for driving under the influence last year when police officers noticed him stumbling to his vehicle in the parking garage under the Statehouse in Columbia. However, Vick's attorney argued that the representative was stumbling due to having a rock in his shoe rather than intoxication.

A judge has dropped the charge against Vick because he was not on video when a law enforcement officer read him his Miranda rights. Vick is, however, still facing DUI charges after an incident in 2012 in which he was pulled over for speeding. Officers reportedly smelled alcohol when they approached the car and went on to arrest him.

DUI penalties are the same for all

Rep. Vick's legal issues demonstrate that being pulled over and arrested for DUI can happen to anyone, including high-ranking public officials. Although some might believe that members of the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate are immune from the risks of drunk driving and certain other criminal matters, that's not the case at all.

In South Carolina, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol to the point that the motorist's "faculties" to operate the vehicle are "materially and appreciably impaired." State law calls for anyone driving with a blood alcohol content level above .08 percent to be arrested and charged with DUI, although individuals with BAC levels below that amount could also face charges if officers believe they were driving while impaired.

According to state statutes, individuals facing DUI charges for the first time may be required to spend two to 90 days in jail and pay fines between $400 and $1,000, in addition to a six-month driver's license suspension. If it is a second offense, courts may sentence individuals convicted of DUI to up to three years in jail, issue fines up to $6,500 and require up to a one-year license suspension. Individuals will also likely have to install ignition interlock devices, requiring them to register a legal BAC before they can start their vehicles.

The penalties for a third-offense DUI are even greater, including 60 days to five years incarceration, fines between $3,800 and $10,000 and a suspended license for two years, along with a mandatory ignition interlock device. If it is a fourth drunk driving conviction, the person convicted may have to spend up to seven years in prison, pay $10,000 in fines and have their driving privileges permanently revoked.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in South Carolina, it is important to work with a knowledgeable legal professional to protect your rights and seek reduced or dropped charges. Learn more by working with a skilled DUI defense attorney in Irmo.