You may be stopped by a police officer who suspects you of driving under the influence (DUI). However, you’re likely unaware of how your legal rights still apply, and your statements or actions may lead to an arrest. This is why you should hire the best DUI defense lawyer in South Carolina.
A DUI defense lawyer advises on their rights in a DUI case. This article discusses the rights of a DUI suspect in South Carolina.
What Is DUI? The Best DUI Defense Lawyer in South Carolina Explains
Driving under the influence (DUI) means operating a vehicle when your ability to drive is impaired to an appreciable extent. Possible effects include speeding and driving recklessly.
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is an important factor in establishing DUI. As the best DUI defense lawyer in SC states, the standard scale for BAC levels according to South Carolina law is:
- At least 0.02% for drivers under 21
- At least 0.08% for drivers over 21
- At least 0.04% for commercial drivers
Possible Penalties for a DUI Offense
In addition to any administrative penalties, South Carolina DUI convictions can result in the following criminal penalties:
- First offense DUI misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days jail time, a $400 fine, and 6-month license revocation (for BAC under 0.10%), or by up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, and 6-month license revocation (for BAC 0.10-0.16%), or by up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, and 6-month license revocation (for BAC above 0.16%);
- Second offense DUI misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, a $5,100 fine, and 1-year license revocation (for BAC under 0.10%), or by up to 2 years in jail, a $5,500 fine, and 1-year license revocation (for BAC 0.10-0.16%), or by up to 3 years in jail, a $6,500 fine, and 1-year license revocation (for BAC above 0.16%);
- Third offense DUI misdemeanor, punishable by up to 3 years in jail, a $6,300 fine, and 2 or 4-year license revocation (for BAC under 0.10%), or by up to 4 years in jail, a $7,500 fine, and 2 to 4-year license revocation (for BAC 0.10-0.16%), or by up to 5 years in jail, a $10,000 fine, and 2 to 4-year license revocation (for BAC above 0.16%);
- Fourth or subsequent offense DUI felony, punishable by up to 5 years jail time, and permanent license revocation (for BAC under 0.10%), or by up to 6 years in jail, and permanent license revocation (for BAC 0.10-0.16%), or by up to 7 years in jail, and permanent license revocation (for BAC above 0.16%).
As a commercial driver, getting convicted of a first-offense DUI disqualifies you from operating a commercial vehicle. Also, if you refuse to submit to testing, your license can be suspended for up to a year.
Getting convicted further suspends your driving license for at least six months. Still, you can apply for a provisional license. The best DUI defense lawyer in South Carolina can help you understand DUI laws and what to do if arrested.
What Are Your Rights as a DUI Suspect in South Carolina?
The best DUI defense lawyer in SC will tell you that you do not lose your constitutional rights if pulled over or arrested for suspected DUI. However, the arresting police officer must inform you of your rights using the Miranda warning. Note that a police officer’s failure to notify you of the Miranda rights can nullify the arrest and keep you from facing charges.
So what rights does the law guarantee you as a DUI suspect?
- Probable Cause
By law, the Fourth Amendment shields you from unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement. A police officer can ask you to pull over. But, they must have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that you broke the law while driving. Else, any evidence they gather during this stop is inadmissible in court.
Answering questions during a traffic stop is not an obligation. However, you must state your name and provide details about identification and proof of insurance. Also, you do not have to admit anything and ensure you can speak to an attorney immediately before answering any further questions.
- Remaining Silent
As a DUI suspect, the law guarantees you can stay silent and refuse to answer any questions by the police. You can keep exercising this right until you have an attorney representing you.
- Assistance by Legal Counsel
Under the Sixth Amendment, the constitution guarantees that a criminal defendant has access to and assistance from a legal professional. So, even when you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, a public defender can handle your DUI case free of charge.
However, public offenders are usually stacked with more cases than they can handle. As a result, they may not pay adequate attention to your case or put up the best defense. Therefore, it is always prudent to work with a DUI defense lawyer in a private law firm is always best.
- Refusal of Breathalyzer Test
You also have the right to refuse to take a breathalyzer test when the police pull you over. But there is a downside to exercising this right; your driver’s license will be immediately suspended. Also, you must attend the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services course.
How the Best DUI Defense Lawyer in South Carolina Can Help
Speaking to an experienced DUI attorney is vital and affects your case’s outcome. A DUI defense lawyer has experience in handling drunk driving cases. So, you get advice on the best defense option suited to your case.
You can also prove your innocence with quality legal help. For example, your DUI lawyer can help show the improper use of the field sobriety test and use it to dismiss the charge against you.
Need Help With Your Case? Speak to a Charleston DUI Lawyer
Being arrested and convicted of a DUI case can be frustrating. It can take away your means of livelihood, affect your social status, and your relationship with your friends and family. Therefore, you must know your rights, especially where a breach of them can lead to the charges getting discharged.
Our DUI defense lawyers will explain these rights and help you identify any possible breach. If there is an infringement of your rights, we will base our defense on it. If there isn’t, we’ll put up other defenses.
We have years of combined experience helping clients charged with driving under the influence and have recorded great success. Speak to our experienced criminal defense lawyer in Charleston today.