How Is A DUI Defined In South Carolina?
In South Carolina, driving under the influence (DUI) is defined by statute, which states that it is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired. If a police officer thinks that you are driving under the influence, they will arrest you and charge you with a DUI.
Can You Provide a Brief Timeline Of What Transpires After Someone Is Pulled Over At A DUI Stop?
When a police officer stops someone on suspicion of DUI in South Carolina, the officer is already starting to build a case against that person by observing their driving patterns prior to initiating a DUI traffic stop. Once the officer makes contact with the driver, they will usually note in their report that the driver has bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. They also typically note that the driver is unsteady on his feet upon stepping out of the car. If the officer has established reasonable suspicion in his or her mind that the suspect is under the influence, the officer is going to request that the individual perform field sobriety tests (FSTs). However, South Carolina law does not require that an individual submit to field sobriety tests. In fact, in the event that an officer asks someone to take those field sobriety tests, my advice is to simply and politely refuse.
If a police officer decides to charge and arrest a person for DUI, that person will be taken to a nearby police station or jail and offered a chemical breath test. Submitting to the chemical breath test is required by the South Carolina implied consent law. However, a person has the right to refuse this test. If a driver refuses to submit to the chemical breath test, the officer must inform the driver of his rights, including the penalties for refusing the test. Refusing the test generally results in a six month driver’s license suspension. Upon being arrested for driving under the influence in South Carolina and refusing the chemical breath test, an individual’s South Carolina driver’s license will be confiscated and a notice of suspension form will be issued. The notice of suspension form will advise the person of their right to an administrative hearing and instruct them on how to obtain a temporary alcohol license.
Within 30 days of the date that a person is arrested, they may request an administrative hearing regarding the suspension of their driver’s license. This will permit a person to obtain a temporary alcohol license from the DMV, which will allow them to drive unrestricted in South Carolina pending the outcome of the administrative hearing. If, however, a person fails to request an administrative hearing within 30 days of their arrest, the suspension of their driver’s license will stand, and they will no longer be able to request a hearing. It should be noted that the administrative hearing process and the various licenses available can be quite complicated and confusing. When it comes to representing clients for DUI, it really does require the skills of an experienced DUI lawyer.
When Is A Blood Test Preferred As Opposed To a Breath Test In A DUI Case?
In a misdemeanor DUI case, a blood test will only be offered if the person is physically incapable of providing a breath test. Generally, this would occur after a car accident where the defendant is taken to a hospital and is either unconscious or otherwise unable to provide a breath test. Under these circumstances, an officer can request a blood test, but it must be ordered by a trained healthcare worker who agrees that it is the only way to obtain a blood alcohol concentration from the person. For both chemical breath tests and blood tests, there are time limits for securing those samples. If they are not secured within the required time period, they cannot be used against the defendant.
What Factors Would Enhance Or Aggravate A DUI Charge?
A DUI charge will be enhanced or aggravated if the person has had any prior DUI or DUAC convictions within the last 10 years. A DUI charge can also be enhanced if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.10 percent. If a person has a BAC above 0.16 percent, the charge will be enhanced even further.
For more information on DUI Cases In South Carolina, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (843) 856-2222 today.