Have you ever found yourself driving home after a night out, only to be stopped at a DUI checkpoint? It can be an intimidating and nerve-wracking experience. But are these roadblocks even legal in Charleston, South Carolina? If you’re arrested for DUI at one of these checkpoints, you should contact a seasoned Charleston DUI attorney right away.
In this blog post, we’ll uncover the truth about DUI checkpoints and what your rights are as a driver.
What Is the Point of Setting Up a DUI Checkpoint in South Carolina?
DUI checkpoints are legal in Charleston, South Carolina. However, there are some restrictions on how they can be conducted. For example, checkpoint locations must be publicly announced in advance, and officers must have a valid reason for stopping a vehicle.
Checkpoints are typically set up near bars or other locations where alcohol is served. Officers will look for signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech or bloodshot eyes.
If they believe a driver is impaired, they will administer a field sobriety test. If the driver fails the test, they will be arrested for DUI.
Checkpoints can be an effective way to deter drunk driving. However, some drivers may try to avoid them by taking alternative routes or driving erratically.
If you see a checkpoint ahead, slow down and follow the officer’s instructions. Do not try to evade the checkpoint or you may face additional charges.
DUI Checkpoints Are Legal in South Carolina
When our Charleston DUI attorneys first meet with a new client, they have a lot of questions. One of the things they often ask is whether it’s legal for the city to set up DUI checkpoints.
The answer is that, yes, DUI checkpoints are legal in Charleston, South Carolina. The State Supreme Court has ruled that sobriety checkpoints are constitutional as long as they are conducted in a reasonable manner.
This means that the checkpoint must be well-publicized in advance, and drivers must be given the opportunity to avoid the checkpoint if they wish.
What Can Happen if You’re Arrested for DUI at One of These Checkpoints?
If you are caught driving under the influence in Charleston, South Carolina, you will be subject to a number of penalties. These can include fines, jail time, a suspended or revoked driver’s license, and mandatory alcohol treatment.
Fines for a first DUI offense in Charleston start at $400 and can go up to $1,000. You may also be required to perform 40 hours of community service.
For a second DUI offense, the fines double, and the community service hours increase to 60. And a third DUI offense carries even steeper penalties, including a fine of up to $5,000 and up to three years in jail.
In addition to any other penalties imposed, your driver’s license will be suspended for six months if you are convicted of DUI in Charleston. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test when stopped on suspicion of DUI, your license will be automatically suspended for one year.
After your license is reinstated following a suspension for DUI, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle at your own expense. This device prevents your car from starting if it detects alcohol on your breath.
How Can I Avoid Being Pulled Over at a DUI Checkpoint?
If you are ever stopped at a DUI checkpoint, the best thing to do is to be cooperative and answer any questions the police may have. However, there are a few things you can do to avoid being pulled over in the first place.
- First and foremost, make sure you are following all of the rules of the road. This includes obeying all posted speed limits and traffic signals. If you are driving erratically or committing traffic violations, you are more likely to be stopped by police.
- Secondly, do not drink and drive. This is obviously the best way to avoid getting pulled over at a DUI checkpoint. If you have been drinking, find a designated driver or call a cab/Uber to get home safely.
- Be aware of where DUI checkpoints are located in your city or town. Many times, police will announce where these checkpoints will be in advance. If you know where they are, you can plan your route accordingly and avoid them altogether.
By following these simple tips, you can hopefully avoid being pulled over at a DUI checkpoint. However, if you are stopped, remember to be cooperative and respectful with the police officers.
If you are stopped and the police officers suspect you’re drinking and driving, you’ll be asked to take a breathalyzer test. If you blow higher than the legal limit of .08, you will be arrested and charged with DUI. If this happens, you’re going to need to talk to a skilled Charleston DUI attorney.
What to Do If You’re Pulled Over at a DUI Checkpoint in Charleston
If you are pulled over at a DUI checkpoint in Charleston, South Carolina, there are a few things you should do:
- Remain calm and be polite to the officer.
- Provide the police officer with your driver’s license, a copy of your registration, and proof of insurance.
- The officer will probably ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. Or they may want you to perform a field sobriety test. You do have the right to refuse. However, you may still be arrested for DUI.
- If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent and to an attorney. Do not say anything or sign anything without an attorney present.
To make sure that your rights are protected, we suggest that you call one of our expert Charleston DUI attorneys right away.
What Are the Specific Rules When It Comes to a DUI Checkpoint?
The South Carolina Highway Patrol is the agency responsible for conducting DUI checkpoints throughout the state.
There are specific rules that must be followed when setting up and running a checkpoint. The rules are designed to protect the rights of drivers and to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Here are the specific rules for DUI checkpoints in South Carolina.
- Checkpoints must be announced in advance. The announcement must include the location, date, and time of the checkpoint.
- Drivers must be able to see and avoid the checkpoint if they wish. This means that the checkpoint cannot be hidden or obstructed in any way.
- Drivers must be stopped at random. The police cannot target certain vehicles or drivers. Everyone has an equal chance of being stopped.
- The police must have a valid reason for stopping a driver. They cannot stop someone simply because they want to check their sobriety. There must be a reasonable suspicion that the driver is intoxicated before they can be pulled over.
- Drivers must be treated respectfully by the police. They have the right to refuse any field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests if they wish. However, if they do agree to take these tests, they can still be arrested if they fail them.
What Happens if You Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer Test?
Your Charleston DUI attorney will explain that you can refuse to take a breathalyzer test. You can also refuse to perform the field sobriety test. Just remember that you will lose your license for at least six months if you refuse.
The police officer can also arrest you despite the fact that they have no reading to prove that you’re over the legal limit of .08.
Your attorney will have the option of requesting an administrative hearing to get your license reinstated. However, there’s no guarantee that this will be approved.
Can Your Attorney Challenge Your Arrest at a DUI Checkpoint?
It may seem unfair that the police can conduct a DUI checkpoint just so that they can arrest drunk drivers. Unfortunately, not only is it legal for them to do this, but it’s in the public interest to do so.
If you feel that your arrest wasn’t justified, your Charleston DUI attorney can challenge your arrest at a DUI checkpoint. If the police did not have a valid reason for stopping you, then the checkpoint was illegal, and your arrest may be thrown out.
However, even if the checkpoint was legal, your attorney may still be able to challenge the evidence against you and try to get the charges reduced or dismissed.
Contact an Experienced Charleston DUI Attorney Today
If you are arrested for DUI, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced Charleston DUI lawyer. The consequences of a DUI conviction can be significant, and an experienced attorney can help you understand your options and what to expect.
A DUI arrest can lead to jail time, fines, loss of driving privileges, and an increase in insurance rates. A conviction can also result in a permanent criminal record.
An experienced attorney will be familiar with the laws and procedures surrounding DUI arrests and can help you navigate the process. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact an experienced Charleston DUI attorney as soon as possible.