Although every DUI case is different, there are many similarities in how the stop, investigation, and subsequent arrest take place.
If you have been charged with a DUI, it is important to know whether your rights were violated during the process, and what your legal options are when the solicitor’s office pursues your case.
At the David W. Martin Law Group, our DUI and DUAC defense attorneys in Fort Mill partner with our clients to ensure their case is evaluated with the clear purpose of pursuing the best outcome for their unique circumstances.
In that quest, the earlier our criminal defense attorneys in Greenville are involved in your case, the sooner we can begin creating solutions for your charges, so you can move forward with confidence instead of worry.
What is the South Carolina DUI or DUAC Stop, Investigation, and Arrest Process?
Although all DUI and DUAC cases are as unique as the person being charged with the act, there are common factors and practices used by South Carolina law enforcement agencies to apprehend the alleged violators.
Those factors may include:
Stopping the vehicle by pulling the driver over.
The DUI or DUAC stop is the first step in pursuing a potentially intoxicated driver for breaking the law. The stop typically occurs when an officer sees signs of impairment or witnesses a traffic violation.
We will discuss the circumstances of your stop with you to ensure your rights were not violated, and that the officer had probable cause, which is a reasonable reason to stop you.
What the officer observes from the driver’s behavior after the stop.
When an officer approaches any vehicle after a stop, they will request your license and registration all while looking for signs of impairment. Are your eyes red? Does the officer smell alcohol? Are you slurring your words or unable to locate the proper documents out of confusion?
All the officer’s observations will be recorded in the police report and will potentially be seen on the officer’s dash camera in his patrol vehicle and on his body-worn camera. This is all made available to us when we file our requests for discovery. Our DUI attorney in York County can easily identify both the case’s weaknesses and strengths by reviewing this report.
The officer(s) will begin questioning the driver about their day/night.
During police questioning, the driver is typically asked if he or she had anything to drink before getting behind the wheel of the vehicle. This is the perfect time to remain silent. Admitting to having even a single drink can incriminate you, and it will do nothing to stop the investigation from proceeding.
The officer will ask the driver to participate in a roadside inspection.
If the officer suspects drunk driving, those suspicions will need to be confirmed before an arrest can be made. This is typically accomplished through three notable roadside or field-sobriety tests:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: In this test, the officer often uses a pen to examine the driver’s eyes for the presence of nystagmus when moving the eyes horizontally. This test can be very subjective and is often the officer’s conclusion is often a matter of his opinion.
Walk and Turn Test: In this test, the officer will ask the driver to walk, heel to toe, on a line for nine steps, and then turn and walk back. This test gives the driver a series of tasks they were supposed to complete and the officer is looking for exact compliance with the instructions he gave for the task. A driver forgetting even a minor instruction can cause an officer to believe the person failed this test.
One Leg Stand Test: In this test, the officer will ask the driver to stand on one foot while they raise the other foot in front of them. This test attempts to determine the driver’s balance and whether it is being impaired by alcohol. However, as we know, many factors impact a driver’s balance other than having consumed alcohol or drugs.
Remember, no matter what the officer tries to tell you, you are not required to take these tests and can refuse. Taking these tests is how officers gather evidence to support their accusation of driving under the influence.
The driver will be placed under arrest for DUI or DUAC.
Once the police officer has determined there was probable cause to arrest you for DUI, you will be placed under arrest and transported to the police station. The police will also typically search your vehicle by this point and will charge you with any unlawful items therein, which may result in drug or gun crime charges when applicable.
At the police station, the officer will likely ask the driver to take a breath test to determine the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of the driver. Taking the breath test is not required without a warrant, regardless of what the officer says. Further, in South Carolina, punishment in DUI and DUAC cases is determined by the measured BAC of the driver. If the BAC level is high then the punishment is higher; however, if the driver refuses then the BAC level for any corresponding punishment is entered at the absolute lowest level (less than 0.10% BAC).
In certain circumstances, the officer may take a driver to the hospital for a urine test or blood test. Again, without a warrant that is signed by a judge, these tests are not required.
Regardless of the results of the breath testing, the driver will still likely stay arrested and be booked into jail until a judge releases them or someone posts a bond on their behalf. If you refuse a breathalyzer test, it may come with consequences, including a license suspension. Our attorneys will work with drivers to challenge the suspension and get the driver’s license back as quickly as possible.
If you have been arrested for DUI or DUAC, contact our criminal defense lawyers in Fort Mill County by calling (803) 548-2468 to schedule a free consultation today. The more we know about your arrest, the quicker we can begin building your case to pursue the best outcome available for your unique circumstances.