If you’ve ever been pulled over for suspicion of DUI in South Carolina, you know it can be a harrowing experience. Those red and blue lights appear in your rearview mirror and you panic. Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, it can still be scary. That’s because it seems like, if they want to, the cops can arrest you for just about anything. With the tension between citizens and law enforcement today, this seems more true than ever before.
Legally, the cops can only pull you over for certain reasons. They need reasonable suspicion that you’ve committed some crime or infraction. For example, if you’re speeding, they have every right to pull you over. The same is true if you run a red light. And, once they pull you over, they can check to see if you’re under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
The tricky thing is in the way they test you. The most common way to test for inebriation is a breathalyzer. The police in South Carolina carry a portable breathalyzer test (PVT). This test measures alcohol concentration in your blood. And, while this is the most popular kind of test, it’s not the only one.
The Police Will Do a Field Sobriety Test at the Scene
Whether you consent to a breathalyzer or not, the police are going to ask you to do a field sobriety test. This is the performance test you need to do to show if you’re drunk or not. It involves the heel to toe walk. It also involves the cops looking at your eyes to see if they’re glazed or show signs of impairment. If you watch a lot of television, you probably think this test also involves reading the alphabet backward. This isn’t really done anymore. Even people who haven’t had a drop of alcohol can’t do that kind of test. The field sobriety test also involves you standing on one foot for a certain period of time to see if you lose your balance.
One concern with the FST is that it is hard to pass. There’s also the chance that the officer won’t administer it properly. Your South Carolina DUI defense lawyer will look for this. If the officer gave confusing instructions, you could challenge the test. Or, if they made you perform the test in inclement weather you can challenge it as well. But the field sobriety test isn’t the only way the cops can prove you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The Police Can do a Blood or Chemical Test as Well
There has been a lot of controversy over the last few years over the breathalyzer test. Regardless of where you live, you can refuse to take the test. This usually carries a penalty of an automatic license suspension. But if you believe you’ll fail the test, it may be a better idea to refuse it rather than fail. Many other states are also prohibiting the State from using your refusal to take the test as evidence in court.
In South Carolina, if you do refuse the test, you’ll face the following consequences:
- Your license will automatically be suspended
- You’ll have to complete a mandatory alcohol and substance abuse course
- You’ll have to pay at least $100 to get your license reinstated
Since there’s no reason to hand the court a conviction, if you truly think you won’t pass the test, it may be a good idea to refuse it. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the police can still get a warrant to conduct other tests. This could include a blood or urine test. In South Carolina, when you accept a driver’s license or decide to drive on their roads, you consent to this sort of testing. The only difference is that it takes time to get this warrant and to conduct the test. Your BAC could dip below the legal limit of .08 during this time.
Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer in South Carolina Right Away
If you’re arrested and charged with DUI in South Carolina, you need help. Whether you consented to the breathalyzer test or not, you’re going to need a lawyer. You’ll have to attend your first hearing within hours or a couple of days of your arrest. You’ll want a skilled DUI lawyer by your side for this hearing. There is a lot at stake. You don’t want to handle this on your own. Call our office and schedule your initial consultation.