Driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a crime here in South Carolina. Here are a few FAQs about DUI arrests.
Why Did I Get Pulled Over?
In general, law enforcement officers must have probable cause — or at least a reasonable suspicion — before “pulling you over.” That likely means the officer saw you doing something illegal or suspicious like weaving, crossing over lanes, speeding, driving too slow, making a bad turn, and the like. Even something as simple as not using your turn signal or not wearing your seat belt will be sufficient cause for the officer to pull you over.
What Happens After I Get Pulled Over?
When the officer approaches your car, he or she will be looking for evidence of impairment and/or alcohol use and/or drug use. The officers are trained to notice your eyes — are they red? are the pupils dilated? — and to sniff for the smell of alcohol or marijuana. The officer will also visually inspect the back seat, the side seat and other “in plain view” parts of your vehicle. The officers are trained to notice the paraphernalia of drug use. The officer will also ask questions prompting you to speak. The officers are trained to understand signs of impairment. If your speech is slurred or you exhibit lack of mental concentration/focus, that might be grounds for suspecting you have been drinking or using drugs.
If the officer has reasonable grounds to believe you are impaired, the officer may ask you to exit the vehicle and ask that you perform a sobriety test. The officer may also give you a breathalyzer device which tests your blood alcohol concentration level. The officer may also simply arrest you and take you to the police station.
What Does Blood Alcohol Concentration Mean?
When you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, in general, the law enforcement officers will take breath, blood and/or urine samples for testing. The tests will show your blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”). Above certain levels of BAC, it is presumed under the law that your driving was “impaired.” Further, there is “strict liability” of sorts in the sense that you are simply not allowed to drive a vehicle if your BAC is above certain levels. See S. Car. Code, §56-5-2933.
Can I Refuse to Give Breath, Blood and Urine Samples?
Yes, you can refuse to give samples, but there are consequences and, under many circumstances, breath, blood and urine samples can be collected without your consent. If you refuse to provide samples, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least six months and there are other consequences. See S. Car. Code, §§56-5-2946 and -2951. The nonconsensual taking of samples can be done if you were in a wreck that caused bodily injury and/or death. See S. Car. Code, §§56-5-2946 and -2948 (link above).
Do I Really Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Yes. This cannot be emphasized enough. If you are arrested for any sort of DUI — there are four DUI crimes in South Carolina — it is essential to hire a good criminal defense attorney to help. A conviction might lead to jail time and large monetary fines. Further, your future employment is at risk. Employers generally ask about arrests and convictions. You do not want to lose a job to someone else based on a DUI conviction. Get a good Greenville criminal defense lawyer.
Greenville SC DUI Defense Lawyers — Call The Law Office Of H. Chase Harbin Today
For more information, contact the proven criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of H. Chase Harbin. Our attorneys can provide a solid and aggressive defense for a DUI or any crime for which you are accused in Greenville, South Carolina. Contact our office today via email or by telephone. We have offices in Greenville and Pickens, South Carolina.