When you or someone you love has been arrested for a DUI or driving under the influence charge in South Carolina, you’re bound to have a lot of questions about what to expect. If it is your first time dealing with this process, it can be very confusing and even intimidating. You’ll want to know how long the process is going to take and what steps are involved. You’ll want to know what your best options are for DUI defense, and what the outcomes could be.
To start with, the timeline of a DUI defense case can be several months. In some cases, the prosecutor will offer a plea agreement in which your DUI charge can be dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. Some people may be able to avoid the pitfalls of a DUI charge by pleading guilty to a charge like reckless driving. Others plead guilty to the DUI in an agreement which allows for a lesser punishment. However, if neither of these options are available or appropriate, you may end up facing the charges in a South Carolina court room for a trial decision.
What Does Implied Consent Mean in South Carolina?
When you are first pulled over for a suspected DUI, you will usually be subjected to a blood alcohol content (BAC) breathalyzer test. In certain circumstances, a blood test will be used. You must take the breath test within two hours of driving or the blood test within three hours of driving. One of the most important things to know about these tests is that South Carolina has an implied consent law. This means that there are consequences for refusing to cooperate with the tests. The consequence will be the immediate suspension of your license for a period of six months to one year, depending on how many times you’ve refused to take a test in the past. If it is your first time, then it will be six months. For the second offense, it will be nine months. For a third offense, it will be one year. There are administrative remedies that a DUI lawyer can use to fight these consequences.
What Happens After the DUI Arrest in South Carolina?
A bench trial will be scheduled following your DUI arrest. At this time, your case goes to a judge and you have an option to let the judge make a final decision in your case, plead guilty, or request a trial by jury. Requesting a trial by jury is the best course of action in most DUI cases. If you do this, then you will get a court date for a trial with six jury members who will decide whether you are guilty or not. It is important to have a DUI defense attorney on your side throughout the process, to improve your likelihood of achieving the best possible outcome.
Investigation and Defense for DUI Charges in South Carolina
Your DUI defense attorney is going to ensure that your case is thoroughly investigated, and the prosecution will have to provide all of the evidence that they have against you. Your attorney will have the police report, any video from the arresting officer’s vehicle, and any video from the room in which you received the breathalyzer test. There are certain procedures and processes that have to be followed in a particular way, and any deviation from this on the part of the arresting officer could be used as evidence in your defense or to get the charges dropped.
Is the DataMaster (DMT) BAC Reading Accurate and Reliable?
The breathalyzer machine that is used in South Carolina is a DataMaster (DMT), and these machines have to be well maintained and calibrated. One thing that your DUI defense attorney should do is to review and challenge whether or not the machine’s readings are accurate and reliable. There are many ways that the DMT breathalyzer machine readings can be inaccurate, unreliable, and questionable.
What Can You Do To Improve the Outcome of Your DUI Case?
The best thing that you can do to improve the outcome of your DUI case is to have an experienced South Carolina DUI defense attorney on your side, and don’t get into any further trouble through the process. Beyond this, there isn’t a lot that you can do. Your attorney will investigate all of the available evidence and the details of your arrest, and advise you concerning the best way to proceed with your defense.
It is important to note that there are different procedures carried out by different courts. For example, you may get a pre-trial hearing that allows your attorney to negotiate with the prosecution in an effort to reduce or drop the charges. In most cases, you won’t want to speed up the process because the longer you wait for your trial, the more time your attorney has to investigate the evidence, and the more likely it is that witnesses may become unavailable, making it more challenging for the prosecution to prove the case. It also allows for more time for negotiation between the defense and prosecution. Even when courts don’t do a pre-trial, negotiation is still a part of the process; it is just done outside of court.
Having said that, there are some cases where it is appropriate to speed up the process, such as situations where the charge is impacting your job and your family. Your attorney should take the time to get to know your unique situation in order to determine which course of action is most appropriate to get the best possible outcome for your case.
What to Expect From a Jury Trial for Your South Carolina DUI Charge
A jury trial is usually the best way to go if you are not able to reach a reasonable negotiation with the prosecution. This process takes a bit of time, as there may be motions to dismiss the charges, motions to exclude certain evidence, and then the process of selecting the jury members. In many cases, the motions alone can improve the outcome of negotiation with the prosecution if the judge rules in your favor. If not, the jury trial will move forward.
The jury trial will begin with the opening statements on both sides. Then, the arresting officer will be called to the stand and cross examined, as will any other witnesses who may be relevant to the case. In some cases, you will want to testify on your own behalf, but not always. This will be determined on a case by case basis. Then, there will be the closing arguments on both sides, and the jury will deliberate to reach a conclusion or verdict about your case.
Call The Bateman Firm If You Have Been Arrested For a DUI
If you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, contact an experienced DUI defense attorney in Greenville at The Bateman Firm to discuss your case, your options, and how we can defend you and seek the best outcome for your situation.