As any police officer will tell you, drinking and driving aren’t just dangerous to yourself and everyone else; it’s also illegal. That’s why it’s best to drink responsibly or call a cab if you don’t. However, we make bad decisions sometimes and have to deal with the consequences. If you’re caught driving under the influence, the best DUI defense lawyer in Charleston can help protect your rights.
However, knowing what happens if a police offer pulls you over for a DUI is essential. Understanding how they conduct their investigations can help you act appropriately. This article provides a breakdown of all you need to know; let’s take a look.
What Happens When a Police Officer Pulls You Over for DUI
If you’re pulled over in Charleston for suspicion of DUI, police officers have to follow a specific set of actions that begins with the traffic stop. The officer would be making observations throughout the situation, so it’s crucial to understand how they conduct their investigation.
Below is a breakdown of what takes place when pulled over.
There are many reasons a police officer might choose to pull you over. It could be a simple traffic violation like a broken tail light, or they saw you swerving. Whatever the reason is, they can decide to pull you over. Once the police officer comes over and notices you’ve been drinking or you’re under the influence of drugs, they’ll take note of your behavior and responses.
The first thing a police officer would do once they get to your car is asking for your license and registration. During this period, the police officer would look for signs of impairment if they suspect you’ve been driving under the influence. Some symptoms they look out for are the smell of alcohol, red eyes, or slurred speech.
If, during the stop, the police officer finds signs that you were driving under the influence, they will kickstart their investigation. First, the officer would ask you if you’ve been drinking and, if yes, how much you drank.
The officer would also ask when you had your last drink. Ensure you do not admit to drinking. The best DUI defense lawyer in Charleston can use your non-admission to prove your innocence.
The police officer would take notes of all observations they make that support their suspicions and include them in the police report. They would also take notice of any nervousness and behavior that indicates you’re intoxicated. Once they confirm you’ve been drinking, they would ask you to take a roadside field test.
This is a test that would serve as evidence that you’ve been driving under the influence. Roadside tests allow police officers to test your level of impairment. In addition, it will provide the officer with an estimate of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
There are two voluntary tests the police officer would ask you to take. They could choose to perform a field sobriety test or a preliminary alcohol screening. You can choose not to submit to these tests as well.
Field Sobriety Test
This test physically observes the level of a driver’s impairment. It begins with the officer asking you to step out of your vehicle. Afterward, they would ask you to perform a series of activities that someone sober can efficiently perform.
Some field sobriety tests to be on the lookout for include:
- One-leg stand
- Walk and turn
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN)
Again, the test is voluntary, and you can choose not to perform it. However, this could result in a suspension of your license. Note that passing this test doesn’t mean you’re off the hook; the police officer would proceed to the preliminary alcohol screening test.
Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test
The police officer would use a portable breath test device to measure your blood alcohol concentration. These tests are usually not as reliable as blood tests conducted at a hospital or police station. However, this test allows the offer to assess your level of impairment to see if there’s cause for an arrest.
The DUI Arrest
If the police officer finds probable cause for an arrest, they could choose to detain you and then take you to a police station. For the arrest, they would first book you and cite you for the offense. Next, the police officer would read your Miranda rights and inform you about implied consent.
Next, the officer would take your license away and provide you with a temporary permit. Then, you will remain in custody until you make bail or the judge chooses to release you.
Finally, when you’re released, the police would return all personal belonging that would not be used as evidence. If you are allowed to pick up your motor vehicle, you must wait 12 hours before it’s available for pickup from the tow yard.
After your DUI arrest, ensure you write down all the information you remember right from the stop. All details are important and could serve as crucial evidence for your case. Also, note that you have the right to call your lawyer at any point in the interaction. The best DUI defense lawyer in Charleston can use these details to put together a solid DUI defense for you.
Some information you might need to jot down is where you were and what you did before being pulled over. You should also note how long after drinking you were stopped.
Finally, take note of which point the officer read you your Miranda rights and if they didn’t. The officer’s behavior and instructions could also benefit your defense, so remember it.
What Implied Consent Means
South Carolina applies an implied consent law that requires everyone arrested for driving under the influence to submit to a chemical test. This could be a blood or breath test. A chemical test helps the authorities determine the amount of drugs or alcohol in your system.
The police officer has to inform you of the implied consent laws. Again, a DUI defense lawyer can use this for your defense if they don’t.
Hire the Best DUI Defense Lawyer in Charleston
Being charged with a DUI is a severe offense, and if found guilty, it could result in jail time, fines, and many more consequences. Hiring the best criminal defense attorney Charleston offers gives you the best chance at ensuring a favorable outcome.
Our criminal defense attorney in Charleston will evaluate your case to determine the best method to defend you. Our team at Charleston DUI Guy law firm is experienced and has considerable experience handling DUI cases. Get in touch with our DUI attorneys today to discuss the details of your case during a free initial consultation.