Getting charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in South Carolina can be a stressful and confusing experience. It is essential to understand the process and the laws surrounding DUI charges to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. In this blog post, we will provide a step-by-step guide to navigating the DUI process in South Carolina, from the initial traffic stop to potential penalties and legal defenses.
1. The Traffic Stop and Field Sobriety Tests
When a law enforcement officer suspects a driver of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may initiate a traffic stop. During the stop, the officer may ask the driver to perform a series of field sobriety tests to determine their level of impairment. These tests may include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test.
2. The Breathalyzer Test
If the officer believes the driver is impaired based on their performance on the field sobriety tests, they may request the driver to submit to a breathalyzer test. Under South Carolina's implied consent law, drivers are required to submit to a breath test if they are arrested for DUI. Refusing the test can result in a suspension of your driver's license.
3. Arrest and Booking
If the breathalyzer test shows a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, or if the officer has other evidence of impairment, the driver will be arrested for DUI. They will be taken to the police station for booking, which includes fingerprinting and having their mugshot taken.
4. The DUI Charge and Potential Penalties
After the arrest, the driver will be formally charged with DUI. The penalties for a DUI conviction in South Carolina depend on several factors, including the driver's BAC level and whether they have prior DUI convictions. Penalties can include fines, jail time, license suspension, and mandatory alcohol or drug education programs. The South Carolina Code of Laws outlines the specific penalties for each level of DUI offense.
5. Legal Defenses and Representation
There are several potential legal defenses that can be raised in a DUI case, including challenging the legality of the traffic stop, the accuracy of the breathalyzer test, and the officer's observations during the field sobriety tests. It is crucial to have an experienced DUI attorney on your side to help navigate the complex legal landscape and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
At the Law Office of Patrick C. Sharpe, we specialize in South Carolina DUI laws and have a deep understanding of the DUI process. Our team is committed to providing top-notch legal representation to clients facing DUI charges. We will work tirelessly to investigate your case, identify potential defenses, and advocate on your behalf in court. If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI in South Carolina, contact us today for a consultation and let us help you navigate the DUI process with confidence.