Things You Should Know If You Are Pulled Over For DUI / DUAC In South Carolina
Any time you are driving and stopped by a police officer, you should cooperate with the officer in a business-like manner. However, you should also be aware of your rights, especially if the officer suggests that you are being stopped on suspicion of drunk driving – called driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC) in South Carolina.
The lawyers of Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., believe you should know the following four things about protecting your rights after you are pulled over for suspected DUI / DUAC:
1. Be calm and cooperative.
The police officer who stopped you will react to your attitude. If you or your passengers are angry or belligerent, you will get that in return. If you refuse to cooperate with the police officer, you could be charged with resisting arrest or interfering with the officer’s duties. Those charges could linger with you even if a DUI or DUAC charge is dismissed. Simply treat the officer like he or she is just doing his or her job, which is exactly what is happening in most cases.
2. Invoke your right to remain silent.
This does not mean that you refuse to speak at all. You can provide your name, your driver’s license and vehicle registration and answer any basic questions the officer may have. However, if the officer takes you into custody and inquires about whether you have been drinking or how much alcohol you have consumed, you have a right to politely tell the officer, “I would prefer to not answer your questions and request to contact my attorney.”
3. You can refuse field sobriety tests.
There are three primary field sobriety tests used on scene in South Carolina to make a probable cause determination regarding your sobriety: The nine-step heel-to-toe and balance on one leg tests and a very subjective test regarding your eyes as they are tracked to check for nystagmus, better known as HGN.
Also, you must remember you are being videotaped and recorded both visually and audibly.
Everything you do and say is on tape and law enforcement will use this against you at trial.
However, you should be aware that your situation would become more complicated if you are taken to the police station and refuse to undergo a breath, blood or urine test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or the presence of drugs in your system.
Although you have the right to decline to submit to the test, your refusal would lead to your driver’s license being automatically suspended (which could last for anywhere from six months to 15 months depending on your prior record).
You would also be required to enroll in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. Your refusal to submit to the test could also end up being used against you in court.
If your license is suspending based on your refusal, you will have the right to request an administrative hearing with the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 30 days of the issuance of the notice of suspension. You can also seek a Temporary Alcohol Restricted License so you can drive while your hearing is pending. An attorney can provide valuable assistance to you in these matters.
4. Call a DUI / DUAC lawyer immediately.
If you are arrested and held, you should tell the arresting officer that you would like to call your lawyer and will decline to answer questions until your attorney arrives. An immediate step your attorney can take is to protect your rights while you are in custody and help you to obtain a release from custody. Additionally, your lawyer could help you to get your vehicle back if it has been impounded.
As your case progresses, your attorney can continue to play an essential role in your case, from representing you at an administrative hearing to get your license back (or limited driving privileges) to seeking a dismissal of your charges to negotiating a plea if that would serve your best interests.
Keep in mind: The criminal defense attorneys of Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., have decades of combined experience in this area of the law. We know how to protect the rights of those charged with DUI or DUAC in Spartanburg, Greenville and surrounding areas in Upstate South Carolina. In fact, a member of our criminal defense team actually worked in law enforcement for many years in Spartanburg before joining us.
From the moment you are arrested to the final disposition of your case, you can count on us to aggressively stand up for you and seek the best outcome possible.
Do not wait: Contact us today by phone or through our online form.