What really occurs when you’re charged with a DUI in Charleston? It was a lovely evening with friends enjoying a well-deserved break. You’ve all had booze and fun, and it was now time to go home. On your way back, however, the police stop your vehicle for a random checkup.
The approaching officer suspects you have consumed alcohol and decides to give you a breathalyzer to blow air into. You comply, and it turns out that your blood-alcohol level is too high to drive your car. You are immediately requested to get down from your vehicle and are arrested on the spot and charged with a DUI in Charleston.
A lovely evening was ruined in a matter of minutes. But what happens next? Where will you be taken? What exactly happens after you are charged with a DUI in Charleston? Read on.
What Is DUI?
A DUI is short for “Driving Under Influence.” It is a crime punishable by law with a fine, jail time, or both. A DUI is issued when you are caught driving your car or any other motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other recreational drugs, including prescription ones that may decrease your motor skills to such an extent that your driving could prove risky and harmful to yourself, other drivers and sometimes pedestrians as well.
Police are enabled to randomly halt any and every vehicle and check the drivers’ alertness, and, if needed, use breathalyzers to check the blood to alcohol ratio in them. If required, they might ask for a blood test as well. As of now, the maximum ratio of blood alcohol allowed to drive is .08. Anything over this will be against the limits set by law, and thus, you will be liable to be charged with a DUI in Charleston.
Of course, when the police ask, you can refuse to take the breathalyzer or the blood test altogether. This is called a refusal. Even if you do this, you can still be charged with a DUI and be given a yellow sheet entitled “Express Consent Affidavit.”After getting this, you will have 7 days from the day of your arrest to request a hearing at the South Carolina Department of motor vehicles.
If you consent to a blood test, no action will be taken on you until your blood results arrive, which can take days. If your blood alcohol levels are shown to be 0.08 or higher in the blood test, you will then receive a letter from the DMV informing you of the same and that you can request a hearing.
Usually, the police that charge you will also ask you to surrender your license to them immediately. If that does not happen for any reason, it is your responsibility to have to go to your DMV and submit it yourself and receive a temporary driving permit that will allow you to drive until your hearing commences. Typically, hearings are held within 60 days from the date you request them. If found guilty, the penalties are various.
Types of Charges
Generally, there are two types of ways you can be charged when you are under the influence. One is the more serious Driving under Influence (DUI) for which you can be charged when your blood alcohol level is 0.08 or higher. The other is the lesser considered charge of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI). You can be charged with a DWAI the ratio is found to be less than 0.08.
While a DUI in Charleston is considered the more serious charge of the two, both include similar penalties such as lengthy jail time, probation, huge fines, and mandatory drug and alcohol counseling. The only noteworthy difference between them is that a DWAI doesn’t immediately get your license suspended by the DMV. Make no mistake, your reputation, family, livelihood, freedom, and job are all on the line if you get charged with either of them.
Under federal law, all arresting police officers need to follow strict procedures to process everything from stopping your vehicle to taking your blood for a blood test or giving you a breathing analyzer and taking its results and properly arresting you.
If these protocols are not thoroughly followed to the letter, you might even be able to have all your charges regarding the DUI or DWAI dropped immediately. Therefore, it is essential to note down all the details of your arrest and hire an attorney skilled in such cases as soon as possible.
To seek further assistance and take the right steps related to DUI in Charleston, contact our expert attorneys today.