Powdersville DUI Lawyer
As DUI lawyers in Powdersville, South Carolina, we see plenty of cases involving defendants who were stopped at DUI checkpoints or “roadblocks.” Not every state permits their law enforcement to set up these checkpoints to check for drivers who are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but South Carolina is not one of those states. However, it is important for anyone passing through a DUI checkpoint to understand that law enforcement is bound by very specific rules as to how these checkpoints are conducted. If they fail to follow these rules, it can lead to the case being dismissed.
How Can the Fourth Amendment Help in a DUI Checkpoint?
The US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment says that US citizens do not need to submit to unreasonable search and seizure. This amendment secures the right of every citizen to keep their person, home, and property from searches and seizures, including by law enforcement. Essentially, it means that law enforcement cannot search your personal or private property without first obtaining either probable cause that you are in violation of the law or your express verbal permission.
The “seizure” part of the amendment comes into play in the event that you are asked to pull over and are not permitted to leave without permission from the police officer. Since officers at a DUI checkpoint effectively seize every vehicle and driver without question, that is, without probable cause, some claim that these stops are unconstitutional.
However, in a 1990 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States rules that being stopped by officers at a DUI checkpoint does not adequately meet the definition of unreasonable seizure as stated in the Fourth Amendment. This decision determined that these actions were legal, so the Fourth Amendment does not apply in this case.
What Should I Do at a DUI Checkpoint in Powdersville, SC?
If you find yourself at a DUI checkpoint and are stopped by officers, remember the following steps:
First, stay calm. Police officers know that being stopped can be very stressful for most people, but being especially upset or nervous may make you look suspicious.
Second, be respectful. Being willfully uncooperative, aggravating, or disrespecting an officer is needless. If you need to decline an officer’s request, decline them politely and respectfully. Taking an adversarial approach to the stop can quickly escalate the event and you will not be in an advantageous position.
Third, and as DUI defense lawyers serving Powdersville, SC, we can’t stress this one enough, remember that you have the right to remain silent, and exercise that right. Respectfully inform the officer that you wish to remain silent.
Fourth, do not consent to a search of your vehicle. You don’t need to give the officer your permission to search your vehicle if they ask. Refusing a search does not automatically make you look guilty in the eyes of the law.
Finally, if you are asked to perform a field sobriety test, you may refuse. However, if you do, this can be used as cause for suspension of your license.
What Are the Guidelines for a Legal DUI Checkpoint in Powdersville, SC?
There are specific guidelines which must be followed by law enforcement when conducting sobriety checkpoints. Though it may seem that these checkpoints are established randomly by officers who have too much free time, rest assured this is not the case. Here are some of the guidelines for DUI checkpoints in South Carolina.
First of all, law enforcement needs to have a valid reason to establish a checkpoint. Second, the approval of supervisory law enforcement officials is needed not only to establish a checkpoint, but they must approve the location and procedures for the checkpoint’s execution. Then, the date and location of the checkpoint must be announced, usually in a local paper and other news media, but there are many websites devoted to tracking checkpoint locations and times.
Vehicles approaching a checkpoint must be stopped according to a regular pattern. Random vehicles cannot be stopped. Rather, a neutral formula must be followed, such as choosing every second or third vehicle.
The site of the checkpoint must be a safe place and must be identifiable. Law enforcement personnel need to take the proper precautions for safety including lighting, signals, and warning signs. Additionally, law enforcement needs to use official, identifiable police vehicles, and be in uniform when conducting the checkpoint.
Additionally, the checkpoint needs to be clearly identified as a DUI checkpoint, license checkpoint, or any other purpose. The checkpoint cannot be used for whatever an officer feels like investigating – all activities at the checkpoint must be related to the stated purpose of that checkpoint. Once stopped, the length of the stop must be brief. South Carolina law does not set a time limit on checkpoint stops, but law enforcement must follow procedures to ensure that they aren’t keeping drivers stopped longer than necessary. For any given stop, whether the length of time was reasonable or not depends on the circumstances of the case and should be discussed with your DUI defense lawyer in Powdersville, SC if you suspect you were detained for an unreasonably long time.
Finally, the checkpoint needs to be effective. This means that the prosecution needs to be able to demonstrate that the checkpoint served the interests of the public. This usually means the prosecution needs to be able to show that the checkpoint resulted in actual violations, such as drunk driving or driving without a license, depending upon the stated purpose.
When to Hire a DUI Lawyer in Powdersville, South Carolina
Criminal charges, no matter what the crime, carry with them the potential for serious consequences which can change a person’s life forever. If you are from another state outside South Carolina or if you are not a US citizen, the criminal charge may carry a more significant impact on your future. In any case, if you find yourself facing criminal charges, including DUI charges, it is imperative that you contact an experienced DUI lawyer in Powdersville, SC right away to ensure that you follow the proper procedure and defend your rights.
What If I was Caught Drinking while Underage?
As DUI defense lawyers in Powdersville, SC, we often see cases involving underage drinking, including DUIs with underage drivers and juveniles with fake IDs. While many people may dismiss underage drinking as harmless behavior, boys being boys, or blowing off steam, data from the NIAAA, or the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, shows that underage drinking is a serious and growing problem in this country.
Make no mistake: drinking and driving kills, and in the case of an underage driver who is less experienced behind the wheel even while sober, underage drinking is far from typical, harmless teenage fun. Underage drinking comes with serious risks for everyone engaging in it, as there are more than 4,000 underage fatalities from alcohol-related vehicle accidents and other incidents involving underage drinking. Every year, nearly 200,000 underage individuals arrive in the emergency room with injuries resulting from alcohol and this does not even begin to account for the harm caused by the impaired judgment caused by alcohol consumption, such as physical and sexual assault. Anyone charged with underage drinking in South Carolina should consult with an experienced Powdersville DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
The Law on Underage Drinking in Powdersville, SC
The South Carolina state law’s statute prohibiting underage drinking is the same as it is in most states: anyone under the age of 21 may not possess, consume, purchase or attempt to purchase any alcoholic beverage. They may, however, consume alcohol in the homes of their parents or guardians, and use alcohol for religious purposes. If a police officer has probable cause to suspect that a person drinking alcohol, or intoxicated already, is under 21 years old, that officer may request that the suspect submits to an alcohol screening test such as a breath test. Anyone found guilty of drinking while underage will be subject to a fine of at least $100, and a jail term of 30 days maximum. In addition, anyone caught drinking while underage must complete a state-approved education or intervention program comprising at least 8 hours of participation, at a maximum cost of $150.
Despite the clear laws and significant punishments, the problem of underage drinking remains a serious issue which many criminal defense attorneys in Powdersville, SC deal with on a regular basis. Nearly 85 residents under 21 die every year due to alcohol-related causes. Additionally, 71% of South Carolina high school students have had alcohol, with 35% of those drinking before the age of 13. More to the point, 1 in 9 high school students in South Carolina have driven a vehicle after drinking every single month.
What If I Was Caught with a Fake ID in Powdersville, SC?
One of the most common ways that underage individuals are able to obtain alcohol is by means of a fake ID. The state law states that a person possessing any kind of fraudulent, canceled, revoked, or suspended ID or driver’s license is subject to imprisonment of up to 30 days and a fine of up to $200 for the first offense.
This law also applies in cases where a person lends their ID to another person, using a false name in an application for a license or ID card, or otherwise knowingly lying on the application. Any person, underage or not, found guilty of ID fraud of any kind for a second offense will face more severe penalties including a $500 fine or 6 months of prison time. In addition, individuals caught actually altering a driver’s license to commit fraud faces a misdemeanor conviction with up to a $2,500 fine or up to 6 months in prison.
What Are the Consequences of Drinking Underage or Using Fake IDs for College Students in Powdersville, SC?
The possibility of criminal charges and the penalties associated with them are only some of the consequences for those who choose to engage in these dangerous behaviors. College students who are caught drinking underage can also face serious disciplinary action from the college or university they are attending, even if the crime does not occur on-campus. Many colleges and universities in South Carolina have definite statutes prohibiting such activities among their students, including:
- The possession or consumption of alcohol by students younger than 21
- Possessing a fake or altered ID card or driver’s license
- Public intoxication
- Possession of alcohol-related paraphernalia, including empty bottles
- Displaying open alcohol containers in vehicles, public areas, open spaces, or residence halls
- Possession of alcohol in residential rooms where only underage people live
- Providing alcohol to underage people
- Making common containers of alcohol available to people under 21
A student who is found to be participating in any of these activities may face disciplinary action from their university. Note that university policies vary from institution to institution, and those consequences are separate from South Carolina state law. Your criminal defense attorney can assist you in the legal procedures related to your case, and can also assist with university disciplinary actions.
Drinking while underage, using fake IDs, and especially driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are all serious offenses that can carry significant consequences for anyone. This becomes particularly pronounced among high school and college students, who face not only criminal penalties, fines, and jail time, but also expulsion from the educational institution they attend, and in the case of college students, potentially an end to their academic career.
Consult with a South Carolina DUI Lawyer About Your Case
If you are facing charges for underage drinking, DUI, or having a fake ID in Powdersville, South Carolina, contact the attorneys at the Bateman Law Firm immediately. Our experienced DUI lawyer has helped Powdersville, SC residents with many similar charges, and we will help you develop the optimal strategy for defending your case in a court of law or in any disciplinary proceedings carried out by your university.