If you’ve recently found yourself facing a DUI charge, you’re probably worried and wondering what your next step is. Though every case is different, having a general understanding of your rights and the current DUI laws in effect in Greenville County can help make the process a little less daunting. Here are a few things you should know if you or someone you love is facing a DUI charge.
I am charged with a DUI, what now?
Upon release from the detention center, officers will provide you with a citation which names the date and location of your court hearing. It is at this time that you should seek legal counsel, as there may be steps that require immediate action for ensuring the best possible outcome in your case. A failure to appear in court will result in a warrant, and further legal action will be taken.
For offenders who blew higher than .16 or refused the breathalyzer, an MV65 form will be provided on behalf of the DMV with information regarding license suspension and restoration of driving privileges. It is important not to operate a vehicle under any circumstances during this period. In the meantime, an attorney can help you sift through the details of your case and plan a course of action for your court appearance.
A charge does not imply conviction
It is important to understand that in the state of South Carolina, a DUI charge does not necessarily lead to a conviction. There are a number of factors regarding your case that can affect the outcome of your verdict and potentially avoid conviction altogether.
Like any accused offense, you are innocent until proven guilty and a case must be built against you with evidence that proves beyond reasonable doubt that you were operating a vehicle while unlawfully intoxicated. The truth is, it isn’t always easy to determine intoxication, as not all methods for testing are 100% reliable, which leads us to the next point:
Breathalyzer tests can fail
Currently, any driver suspected of driving under the influence is subjected to a breathalyzer screening, which is the latest technology available to officers to determine the driver’s level of intoxication or Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).
In general, a BAC of .08 determines an intoxication level unsafe for vehicle operation, in which case the driver will be booked overnight in a detention center. For those drivers under the legal drinking age of 21, a level of .05 is considered under the influence, and those persons will be booked as well.
However, this technology, just like your GPS or smartphone, isn’t perfect and a margin of error exists, which, through diligent statistical analysis, may determine that you received an inaccurate BAC reading. It is important to know that you may have options for clearing your name of all charges in the event that a substantial error can be proven.
Severity of your case varies, and there are a few plea options you should consider
You may think a DUI case is cut-and-dry, but the matter of being charged with driving under the influence is not so simple. Cases can vary widely as factors such as age, criminal background, and even gender can significantly affect the outcome of a case. For instance, first-time minor offenders stand a much greater chance of having their charges reduced or waived, while those who have a history of DUI may find it more difficult to plead their case.
BAC can also significantly impact the outcome, as those offenders who blew a .10 or .15 or higher will face different charges respectively. If a child was in the vehicle or the case involves an accident which resulted in the injury or death of a person or persons, charges brought against the accused may be more severe, in which case having representation can help navigate the confusing process and recommend the best course of action.
In any circumstance, it is important to know that you have options. In many situations, pleading guilty to a charge in exchange for a plea bargain can reduce penalties and punishments. In other cases, and with the right representation, challenging a guilty plea may successfully rid you of all charges.
Does gender affect the outcome of a DUI case?
Not surprisingly, gender can also have an impact on the results of a DUI case. It is no secret that women face larger scrutiny for drinking in our society, and it is not uncommon for a judge to unknowingly hand down a higher sentence if the accused is a woman.
Gender bias permeates all levels and aspects of our society but regardless of personal identity, you have a right to a fair and unbiased trial, and an attorney can help ensure you receive equal treatment under the law.
Driving privileges may be restored sooner than you think
Transportation is vital, and access to your vehicle is likely a top priority, but it is important to remember that driving under any circumstances, emergency or otherwise, is prohibited until state driving privileges have been restored.
Failure to comply may result in further charges and can limit the success of challenging a DUI charge.
If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, chances are your license has been suspended. The length of suspension may depend on your prior conventions, your compliance with chemical tests and your blood alcohol content at the time of arrest.
First-time offenders who had a BAC less than .15 may be able to restore driving privileges immediately if no further damage or harm was done. In cases where the accused has prior DUI records dating within the last ten years, a lower blood alcohol concentration may not be enough to avoid license suspension. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and get you driving again as soon as possible.
The time to act is now
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, don’t wait. This can be a stressful and emotional time for you and your family, but the sooner you take action, the better your case will be and ultimately the more peace of mind you will gain.
At The Bateman Law firm in Greenville, someone is standing by 24/7 to take your call. You have a right to representation, and we can help you understand the charges against you and the best course of action moving forward. To date we’ve helped thousands of upstate drivers, lessening punishment, avoid convictions, and even eliminating charges.
Call or come in for your free consultation and let us determine what we can do to protect your rights and offer you the best defense.