DUI LAWYER SOUTH CAROLINA
Imagine that you are driving down Airport Road in South Carolina when you see blue lights behind you. You pull over in a safe location, and the officer approaches your vehicle. You hand him your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance when the question comes…”How much have you had to drink tonight?”
Has this ever been the case for you or someone you know? Being suspected of DUI can be a frightening experience, from the field sobriety tests to the breath test, to the suspension of your license. Contacting a qualified South Carolina DUI lawyer at the Strom Law Firm can help you navigate a DUI case.
THE INITIAL TRAFFIC STOP
The scenario described above is similar to the type of traffic stop that you may experience. An officer may pull you over for a multitude of reasons, for instance, not using a turn signal, speeding, failing to stop at a stoplight or swerving. No matter what the initial reason for the stop is if the officer smells alcohol, it is very likely the driver will be asked to step out of the car to perform a series of tests. The officer may not smell alcohol but may suspect you are driving impaired by a substance other than alcohol, such as prescription or OTC medication, or illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, or methamphetamine.
FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS
Field sobriety tests are performed roadside during a traffic stop when an officer suspects you of driving under the influence. These tests provide “clues” of impairment. If you show a sufficient number of “clues” indicating impairment, you may be arrested and charged with DUI.
THE BREATH TEST (DATAMASTER DMT)
Once you are arrested under suspicion of DUI, you will be taken to jail and offered an opportunity to provide a breath sample.
If you provide a breath sample that is below a .15, you will be able to keep your license for the time, but could still lose your license if you are convicted of the DUI. If you provide a breath sample of .15 or higher, your license will be suspended for 30 days. You have the right to refuse to provide a breath sample; however, your refusal will result in the suspension of your license for six months. This suspension would be in addition to any suspension you might incur if convicted in court of the DUI charge.
If you blow above .15 or do not provide a sample, you can request an administrative hearing (also known as an Implied Consent Hearing) to challenge the license suspension. The best DUI lawyers agree that the request for a hearing will toll the suspension period until an order is entered after the administrative hearing is held at the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings. Once a hearing is held, the suspension will either be rescinded or affirmed. If rescinded, you will be eligible to reinstate your license at that time. If affirmed, you must then serve the remainder of the suspension period previously tolled by your request for a hearing. You only have 30 days from the date of your arrest to request an administrative hearing. If you fail to request this hearing, you forfeit the right to challenge your suspension. The experienced South Carolina DUI lawyers at the Strom Law Firm can assist you through this process.
THE PENALTIES AND CONSEQUENCES
If you are convicted of a DUI in South Carolina, you may face a number of penalties including jail time, fines, license suspensions, and other collateral consequences such as increased auto insurance premiums. For example, if you are convicted of a DUI 1st offense, you face up to 30 days in jail or a fine of $400 plus court costs. Your driver’s license will also be suspended for six months. You will need to enroll in ADSAP within 30 days of conviction and have your insurance company file a form SR-22 for 36 months. These penalties only increase with subsequent DUI convictions. For instance, with any DUI 2nd or above conviction, you may also be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle along with extended periods of the penalties described above.
COMMON QUESTIONS about A SOUTH CAROLINA DUI ARREST
I was arrested for DUI but I had not been drinking at all. Will I be able to beat it?
According to the South Carolina DUI statute, it is unlawful for a person to drive while under the influence of alcohol, any other drug, or a combination of other drugs or substances, which can cause impairment to the extent that their faculties to drive a vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired. Not only is alcohol one of the substances listed, but this could include medications that have been mixed with alcohol or other substances, or can include driving while under the influence of illegal substances such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc.
If a law enforcement officer believes you are driving impaired, he or she may ask you to perform field sobriety tests. Once he or she determines you are impaired, you will be asked for a breath sample. If the breath sample is refused or the sample provides a very low reading, the law enforcement officer may ask that you provide a urine or blood sample at the local hospital.
If you are arrested for DUI and believe that you were not impaired, you should contact a South Carolina DUI lawyer immediately. The earlier we start working on your case, the better we will be able to fight the DUI charges against you. Contact Pete Strom and his team of South Carolina DUI Lawyers today at (803) 252-4800 for a free consultation.
Should I perform field sobriety tests or provide a breath sample? What about a urine or blood sample?
You have the right to refuse to submit to any testing the law enforcement officer requests. You can refuse to perform the field sobriety tests, but this will not prevent you from possibly being arrested for a DUI offense. You can also refuse to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample (as discussed above), but you may have your license suspended for doing so.
Can I drive if I’ve requested an administrative hearing after I did not provide a breath sample?
You have 30 days to request an administrative hearing. This request is accomplished by filling out the back of the Notice of Suspension form and turning it into the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings office with a $200 fee. Once you do this, the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings will email you a date for your administrative hearing. This form also goes to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. You will be notified of your eligibility to apply for a Temporary Alcohol License (TAL), and you will then be able to drive legally within the state of South Carolina.
What is ADSAP?
ADSAP stands for Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program and is a statutory mandatory alcohol class offered through DAODAS and locally through LRADAC. Individuals convicted of DUI or DUAC are required to enroll in ADSAP within 30 days from the date of the conviction. The initial assessment and enrollment costs $500, and the program will cost up to $2,000 for the individualized treatment services. However, if you are unable to pay the costs for treatment, they do allow the completion of 50 hours of community service instead of payment. The time to complete the program varies as each case is handled on an individual basis. Those convicted of a DUI offense will not be eligible for a provisional license or to have their regular license reinstated until they can show proof of application or completion of the ADSAP program to the Department of Motor Vehicles. An experienced South Carolina DUI Lawyer near me at the Strom Law Firm, LLC, can help you understand the DUI process.
In terms of the administrative suspensions for the refusal to provide a breath sample or providing a breath sample that requires the suspension of a driver’s license, a person must only show proof of enrollment into ADSAP in order to have their driving privileges reinstated. You must submit this to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 30 days of the issuance of an unfavorable order from the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings.
What is SR-22?
SR-22 is a form and not a type of insurance. This form proves the driver has the required liability amounts to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Form SR-22 is required for persons convicted of a DUI, DUAC, or 2nd Reckless Driving convictions within five years. You are required to have the SR-22 for three years. Having an SR-22 requirement may cause your insurance premiums to increase significantly.
What is an IID (Ignition Interlock Device), and do I have to install one after a DUI conviction?
The Ignition Interlock Device is a breath test mechanism attached to your vehicle’s motor, which will only allow the car to start once you provide a breath sample below a certain threshold. The device is also set up to periodically require you to breathe again to prevent others from blowing in the device for you. If you do not submit to the test, the event will be logged in the IID’s memory, and alarms will go off until you stop the car. The device should be installed in any and all vehicles that you drive. An IID is not required for every DUI conviction. The experienced South Carolina DUI Lawyers at the Strom Law Firm can advise you on whether an IID is required in your case.
This is my first DUI charge, and I have never been arrested before. Does this matter?
While having a clean criminal history is always a positive, there is no option for Pretrial Diversion or PTI in a DUI case. The most efficient way to obtain the best result in your case is to contact a qualified South Carolina DUI Lawyer.
What is a DUAC charge, and how is that different than a DUI?
DUAC stands for Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration. The penalties for a DUI and a DUAC are precisely the same; therefore, if you are convicted of DUAC, your license will be suspended, you must enroll and complete ADSAP, and you must obtain SR-22.
Can I get a DUI conviction removed from my criminal record?
No, a DUI conviction can never be removed from your record through an expungement. This is one of the most devastating aspects of being charged or convicted of a DUI offense in South Carolina. Contact theSouth Carolina DUI Lawyers at the Strom Law Firm today if you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI to avoid having this type of conviction follow you for the rest of your life.
The South Carolina DUI Lawyers at the Strom Law Firm are well-equipped to handle the ins and outs of a DUI or DUAC charge. We are well-versed in the aspects required to defend these charges and are aware of the rules that law enforcement officers must follow in order to be successful in their pursuit of a conviction. Call the Strom Law Firm today at (803) 252-4800 for your free consultation.