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Defending Against DUI Charges in Richland County
Being pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence is a stressful experience. DUI is taken very seriously by law enforcement and the courts in an effort to keep the public safe. Prosecutors will aggressively work to convict those who have violated South Carolina’s DUI laws not only to punish offenders but to send a message to all drivers. However, DUI charges are not always valid or legitimate. No matter the circumstances of your arrest, you will need an experienced defender to help you pursue the best possible outcome.
At the Law Office of Patrick C. Sharpe, LLC, you can turn to a seasoned criminal defense lawyer who focuses much of his practice on DUI. Attorney Sharpe brings unique experience as both a former prosecutor and public defender to your case, putting to work his extensive knowledge and skills on your behalf. His detailed understanding of DUI law and how to deconstruct cases in search of weaknesses and flaws will be used to create a customized legal strategy. Throughout all phases of your case, he will be by your side to ensure that you have the advice and guidance you need.
In the state of South Carolina, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is the legal limit for drivers who are over 21 years old. For drivers who are under the age of 21, the legal limit is lower at 0.02% or higher. In addition, commercial drivers have a lower limit of 0.04% or higher. “Under the influence” is considered to be an impairment of your faculties to the degree that you are a safety risk.
What Behaviors Does Law Enforcement Look For?
South Carolina law enforcement is trained to find and locate impaired drivers on the roads and highways. Some of the behaviors they watch for can include:
- Swerving to correct your route forward
- Drifting across lanes or to the side of the road
- Driving down the middle of two lanes
- Turning in too wide or too narrow a span
- Rolling through stop signs, right turns, or traffic lights
- Driving too slowly
- Hitting the brakes erratically
Your display of any questionable driving behaviors will likely cause you to be pulled over, after which the police officer can take steps to determine if you are under the influence. This can include field sobriety tests as well as breathalyzer tests. In our state, you are required to consent to breathalyzer tests when requested to do so by law enforcement.
DUI Investigations conducted by police officers are done according to state law and procedure. While you are not allowed to refuse DUI testing, you can ask for a blood test instead of a breathalyzer. You will also be required to pay for the DUI testing should you not have insurance.
As mentioned above, you can be convicted of DUI if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent or higher or if you are “under the influence” of alcohol or any intoxicating substance, regardless of your BAC reading.
Penalties for a first-offense DUI can include:
- Jail time of 48 to 90 hours
- Fines ranging from $400 up to $1,000
- Participation in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program
- Alcohol or drug assessment followed by recommended treatment
- Community service instead of jail time
- License suspension of six months
In some cases, you may be granted a provisional license once you complete treatment requirements and/or install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. Penalties are generally increased If your BAC measured .16 percent or higher or if you are convicted of a second or subsequent offense.
Hiring a skilled DUI lawyer is essential when charged with this offense. At the Law Office of Patrick C. Sharpe, LLC, you will have the benefit of the following:
- We will protect your rights and ensure you understand the charges
- We will investigate, review, and analyze all evidence
- We will uncover any flaws in the prosecution’s case and challenge them
- We will seek a lesser charge where appropriate
- We will seek lighter sentencing where applicable, such as probation and community service
- We can show mitigating circumstances where applicable
- We will always fight for the optimum outcome
Put our firm on your side at this crucial time to ensure that your case is handled by a proven professional.
Possible Defenses Against DUI Charges
Here are some common DUI defenses that may be applicable in South Carolina:
- Improper Stop: If the law enforcement officer lacked probable cause to initiate the traffic stop, it may be argued that the stop was unlawful.
- Inaccurate Field Sobriety Tests: Field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand tests, are subjective and can be influenced by several factors, like nerves, physical conditions, or poor instructions. Challenging the accuracy and reliability of these tests can be a viable defense strategy.
- Faulty Breathalyzer or Blood Test: DUI cases commonly involve the use of a breathalyzer or blood tests to measure BAC. Contesting the reliability or accuracy of these tests could be a defense tactic.
- Rising Blood Alcohol Content: It takes time for alcohol to be completely absorbed into the bloodstream. It could be possible that your BAC was under the legal limit at the moment you were driving but rose to an illegal level by the time you took the test. This defense relies on expert testimony and timing calculations.
- Violations of Miranda Rights: If law enforcement failed to properly inform you of your Miranda rights during the arrest, any incriminating statements you made could be inadmissible as evidence.
Keep in mind that these are just some general defenses, and their applicability will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Our Columbia DUI lawyer can evaluate your case and determine the best defense strategy for your specific situation.
Contact Our DUI Attorney in Columbia Today
If you're facing a DUI charge in Columbia, SC, we are here to help. At the Law Office of Patrick C. Sharpe, we understand the serious nature of DUI offenses and the potential consequences they carry. Our Columbia DUI attorney is committed to protecting your legal rights, advocating for your best interests, and achieving the most favorable outcome possible. Don't face a DUI charge alone. Contact us to request a consultation today and begin the first step in building your defense.
Contact the Law Office of Patrick C. Sharpe today to get started on your defense with our DUI lawyer in Columbia, SC.
He kept me informed about all of my options as well as ensured I received the best results.- Andre B.