What Happens After You Get Arrested for DUI?
DUI arrests in South Carolina are fairly common. According to the State Research Department, there were 14,742 drunk driving arrests in 2013. It is important to note that an arrest does not equate to a conviction. In fact, many people successfully challenge their arrest. If you have recently been charged with DUI in South Carolina, you should have a firm understanding of what might happen next.
Immediately After the Arrest
If you refuse or fail a breath test, law enforcement will likely place you under arrest and take you into custody. You are then brought to the police station, where you will wait until someone can pick you up or until the next morning when you are cleared to go home. If you have failed the breath test, your license will likely be temporarily suspended and law enforcement may have your vehicle impounded.
You will receive a date for a court hearing where either a judge or a jury will determine what the outcome of your case may be. Because a DUI is considered a criminal charge, you have the right to a jury trial. During the trial, you will have a chance to argue your case and try to get the charges reduced or even dismissed. Some common DUI defenses include the following:
- Challenging the officer’s assessment of what took place
- Arguing that the breath test produced inaccurate or unreliable results
- Claiming that it was necessary to drive to prevent a greater evil, such as avoiding injury or death
- Citing that an officer lacked probable cause for the traffic stop
You should always discuss all the details of your case with your attorney, including any improper police actions that may have taken place.
If You Are Found Guilty
In the event that you are found guilty, South Carolina imposes fairly strict consequences. For your first offense, you could face up to 90 days in jail, fines of up to $1,000 and a license suspension of up to six months. The penalties are even harsher for subsequent offenses.
There are also aggravating factors that could result in stricter sentencing. For example, if you injured someone else in an accident or had an exceptionally high blood alcohol concentration, you may face more time in prison or a longer license suspension. You could also be ordered to participate in the state’s ignition interlock device program and have to attend an alcohol and drug treatment facility.
Lastly, you will have to take the necessary steps to regain your driving privileges, whether you qualify for a limited license right away or have to wait until your suspension period is over.
While reading through these penalties can be overwhelming, it does paint a picture of why enlisting legal help is so important following a DUI charge.