The holidays represent a time when people celebrate with their families, enjoy the festivities, and even delight in drinking the occasional glass of bubbly or spirits. While 29% of people said they drink more during the holidays, alcohol-impaired driving deaths in South Carolina ranked at 33% compared to the US average of 28%. If you happen to fall under those numbers and get caught driving in South Carolina during the holidays with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit, the following steps can help you prepare for what comes next.
Pullover Safely and Cooperate with the Police.
Your situation, while not good, can get worse if you fail to cooperate with the police respectfully and calmly. When an officer approaches your vehicle, they will usually ask for your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration. Get this information in your hands and hold your hands on the steering wheel so they remain visible. This will show signs of cooperation.
The officer may ask you:
- Where are you coming from?
- Where are you headed?
- Have you been drinking?
- How many drinks have you had today?
While you may refuse to answer the questions, do so with respect and politeness. You can also state that you do not want to answer any questions until you have a chance to speak to your attorney. While the officer listens to your responses, they will look for signs of drinking such as slurred speech, red bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol on your breath, and the inability to coordinate. The officer will want to extend the interaction for as long as possible to gather evidence to support a DUI arrest. You may reiterate your desire to speak to your attorney if the officer continues to try and engage you in conversation, but you do not have to give the officer reason a reason to extend the duration of your interaction.
Standardized Field Sobriety Test
South Carolina has three approved standardized field sobriety tests:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
- One Leg Stand Test
- Walk and Turn Test
The officer, again, will attempt to collect evidence to support a DUI arrest. They will probably arrest you if you refuse to complete the tests. Their request for you to do a sobriety test indicates they have already decided you consumed too many alcoholic beverages and have thereby been driving while intoxicated.
Arrest and Chemical Test
After the officer takes you into custody, they will transport you to a location to complete a chemical test, which usually consists of a breath test at the police station. While you may refuse to complete a chemical test, know that under the South Carolina implied consent law, you will face consequences for refusing to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. The implied consent law states that a South Carolina driver consents to submit to a chemical test for drugs or alcohol via breath, blood, or urine. Your possible refusal will result in consequences related to your driver’s license apart from any penalties you face in court.
Contact a South Carolina DUI Defense Lawyer
By hiring a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer, your DUI charges may get challenged in court based on improper officer procedures. Your DUI defense lawyer may assert a wide array of defenses against the arresting officer which could justify the dismissal of the charges held against you.
- Failure to give you a Miranda advisory of your constitutional rights
- Noncompliance with standardized sobriety tests’ strict requirements, thereby causing them inadmissibility in court unless the officer followed the proper procedures
- Neglected to turn on the video camera while activating the squad car’s lights
- Refused to give affirmative assistance while transporting you to a facility of your choice for the completion of your additional blood alcohol content testing
- Failure to provide informed consent advisory regarding the consequence of a chemical test refusal
- Lack of breath testing device’s maintenance and calibration
If you find that your holidays do not go as planned, and you face a DUI arrest and upcoming trial, contact a DUI defense lawyer at The Bateman Firm in Greenville, South Carolina for all your legal needs.