If you get pulled over by police while you are traveling in a vehicle, the situation can be stressful and frightening. Officers are expected to follow certain protocols and abide by constitutional law if investigating a possible driving under the influence (DUI) incident. The same is true if they decide to make an arrest.
Knowing what to expect may help you understand how to handle this situation. If you were apprehended for potentially driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC), an analysis of the traffic stop, the interaction between you and the officer(s) on scene, and any subsequent arrest may reveal deficiencies that impede, or sometimes even prohibit, the government from prosecuting the case. If defects appear, they may result in a reduction of your charges or even a dismissal of the case.
An analysis of Charleston DUI arrests should be performed by a competent DUI defense attorney. Call our office now to begin an analysis on your case.
Traffic Stops in Charleston
In most situations, officers are required to have “reasonable suspicion” that some type of violation of law has occurred to make a stop. This could take form in swerving, lack of signaling, speeding, or other infractions. Any violation, no matter how small, may be enough to justify a stop.
Adequately identifying the reason the defendant was pulled over or apprehended is imperative because a traffic stop constitutes a “seizure” under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and must be reasonable and lawful. The reason behind the traffic stop is a ripe area for challenge for any experienced DUI attorney in Charleston. Failure to present sufficient evidence justifying the stop could result in dismissal of any DUI charges altogether.
What May Lead to an Arrest During a DUI Traffic Stop?
During the traffic stop for a suspected DUI or DUAC, the officer and driver will interact in several ways. These interactions may include the officer:
- Asking for proof of license, registration, and insurance
- Looking at the defendant’s demeanor and look for signs of intoxication
- Asking the driver to submit to a breath test
- Asking the defendant to perform field sobriety tests
During all of this, the officer may ask several questions designed to determine if the defendant is likely intoxicated. Incriminating, odd or conflicting answers to these questions may result in an arrest. This is why it is important to retain a Charleston attorney familiar with DUI and DUAC arrests as soon as possible.
Being Apprehended for Suspected DUI or DUAC
If an officer carries sufficient reason to believe that a driver is intoxicated, the driver will be arrested. If the driver is medically fit, they are taken to a police station or other location for breath testing. Officers sometimes ask the driver to submit to an additional blood or urine test depending on the circumstances. It is important to remember all citizens have a right to refuse a breath test or a blood or urine test unless law enforcement has a search warrant authorizing said testing.
Officers cannot force the test without a warrant, but there are administrative penalties, like suspension of a drivers license, for refusal under the implied consent law at South Carolina Code § 56-5-2950. However, all citizens have a right to challenge the initial suspension and should do so in most cases.
A well-versed attorney that has experience handling cases following DUI/DUAC arrests in Charleston and can help defendants who are accused of violating South Carolina’s Implied Consent law refute the validity of a refusal or a breath or blood test reading that measures a level high enough to trigger a suspension.
Challenging a DUI/DUAC Arrest
If an arrest is made in a Charleston DUI case, any abnormalities or violations of the defendant’s constitutional rights can be challenged in court. Potential defenses may include challenging the initial stop, showing irregularities in field sobriety tests, or issues with chemical testing. Violations of constitutional rights such as Miranda rights and right to counsel could also be defenses in a case like this.
Consult a DUI Attorney in Charleston after Your Arrest
If you were apprehended for a suspected DUI, you have the right to challenge any violations of your rights. If your case is properly defended, it may result in lesser charges or even a dismissal. Many options are potentially available to defendants who are represented by competent counsel. For help with Charleston DUI arrests, speak with a skilled defense team today. Contact our office now to learn more.