In South Carolina, a DUI (driving under the influence) is defined as driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more or driving while under the influence of any drug, intoxicant, or alcohol. If a driver’s faculties to drive a vehicle are materially impaired, that driver is considered “under the influence” of a substance.
It is essential that you understand not only the consequences and costs of driving under the influence in South Carolina but also what your legal rights are during the traffic stop and after your arrest.
Getting Pulled Over
First and foremost, a police officer must have probable cause to pull you over. Traffic violations, erratic driving, or anything that gives law enforcement reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs would be considered probable cause for pulling you over.
In South Carolina, law enforcement must follow specific procedures required for DUI investigations. This includes field sobriety tests like walking in a straight line, standing on one leg for 30 seconds, and testing your Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (involuntary jerking of the eye).
If the officer believes they have sufficient cause to arrest you, they must give full Miranda warnings – the right to remain silent, the right to counsel before and during questioning, and the right to court-appointed counsel without cost.
The field sobriety tests and the Miranda rights must be shown on video to show that proper police procedure was followed in the course of the traffic stop.
Your Right to Refuse
You do have the right to refuse a field sobriety test. In fact, it is likely within your best interest to decline field sobriety tests. There is no penalty for refusing these tests; however, the officer will likely request a breath or BAC test, and refusal to submit to those tests may result in further consequences. You may still be arrested for DUI whether or not you submit to a field sobriety test.
Implied Consent Laws
In South Carolina, there are implied consent laws that say by virtue of getting a driver’s license in SC, you give your implied consent to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test if asked to do so by an officer. Unlawful refusal of these tests results in a license suspension of six to 12 months.
Seek Experienced Counsel
If you have been arrested for DUI in South Carolina, you have the right to qualified, experienced legal counsel. In DUI cases, the burden is on the state to prove that you committed DUI. Your attorney’s priority is to make sure that the law enforcement officers involved in your arrest did not violate your rights and that any evidence that was obtained in the course of your rights being violated will not be allowed in the case against you. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after you have been arrested for suspicion of DUI.
DUI penalties in South Carolina depend on the number of prior DUIs within the last ten years plus the driver’s BAC. DUIs that occurred in other states are also counted. DUI penalties include jail time, fines, community service, license suspension, and more.
Drivers under the age of 21 are prohibited from operating a vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.02%. If you are caught driving with a BAC higher than 0.02% and you are under 21, you face an automatic license suspension for three to six months.
Contact Ed Martin at SeiferFlatow
Our South Carolina office in Rock Hill is open and we are ready to help you with your DUI or other criminal case. Give us a call at 803-639-8719 to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.