Most DUI arrests occur after a police traffic stop. Before pulling someone over for a possible DUI, officers will look for some sort of moving violation. Even minor violations, particularly at night when DUI enforcement is most active, will result in law enforcement initiating a traffic stop.
If you have been arrested following a Charleston DUI stop, you may be unsure of your rights and legal protections. An experienced DUI lawyer could investigate your case and identify potentially viable defenses.
What Does a Typical DUI Stop Look Like?
In a typical DUI stop in Charleston, the driver is blue-lighted by the police officer, and the officer approaches the vehicle after it comes to a complete stop. The officer may ask the driver where they are coming from and where they are going before asking for their driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration.
The officer may indicate that they smell alcohol and subsequently may ask the driver if they have had anything to drink. The officer will then run the information on the driver’s license to ensure that they are not under suspension or have any pending warrants for their arrest.
If the officer smelled alcohol or observed slurred speech or difficulty producing the aforementioned requested documents, they will likely ask the driver to exit the car and submit to field sobriety tests. If the officer perceives the driver is under the influence, they will be arrested. If not, the officer will let the driver go without an arrest after handing over tickets for any traffic offenses that they believe the driver may have committed. There are no roadside portable breathalyzer tests in South Carolina for driving under the influence investigations.
Conducting a Search
If the individual is arrested, the officer will likely search the vehicle after the arrest. If the officer suspects there are illegal drugs in the car, for example, then they may search the car prior to administering any field sobriety tests.
A driver should never feel the need to consent to a search. They should ask the officer what the justification is for searching the vehicle and demand the officer produce a signed warrant.
What Constitutional Protections are There for DUI Stops in Charleston?
With some exceptions during unique circumstances, a law enforcement officer involved in a traffic stop does not have to read a driver their Miranda rights until they are being handcuffed and placed under arrest.
During a DUI stop, a person has a right to refuse to submit to a field sobriety test, and they have a right to remain silent and not give any statements or make additional comments about their activities that night. A person has a right to remain silent during and after a DUI arrest, they have a right to refuse any testing of their breath or blood, and they have the right to contact a lawyer to be present for their bond hearing.
Contacting an Attorney After a Charleston DUI Stop
If you have been arrested after a Charleston DUI stop, you have the absolute legal right to contact an attorney, and you should exercise that right as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense lawyer could accompany you during any police questioning, represent you during court appearances, and work to build the strongest possible defense to your charges.