DUI Arrest Procedures
Guidance from a Skilled Lexington DUI Attorney
Being arrested for an alleged DUI can be a very scary experience. You might be uncertain about how the arrest process is supposed to work, what your rights are and what to do after your arrest. The Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC has provided a breakdown of the process below. It is best to familiarize yourself with the various stages of a DUI arrest in case you are ever faced with this type of situation. Knowing your rights is crucial for recognizing when law enforcement officers have overstepped legal boundaries. When this is the case, it is often possible to get DUI charges dismissed. If your arrest occurred in the Lexington, South Carolina area, our
Lexington DUI attorney can help you go over the facts of your arrest and determine whether your constitutional rights were violated.
When a law enforcement officer pulls you over, he or she must have sufficient "probable cause," or reasonable grounds to believe that you were breaking the law. This means that the officer cannot simply pull you over because you look like a "suspicious" person. The officer can, however, pull you over and administer sobriety tests if you were observed making traffic violations or exhibiting signs of impaired driving, such as driving at very slow speeds or weaving in and out of lanes. The officer must also have probable cause to actually make the arrest. This cause might be a failed field sobriety test or a failed breathalyzer test.
Tests of Impairment
Once you are pulled over, the officer will likely ask you to submit to a number of field sobriety tests or to a breathalyzer test, or both. There are three different types of field sobriety tests, which include the one-leg stand test, the walk and turn test and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. These generally test a person's physical balance and coordination, which can become impaired when someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
When taking the breathalyzer test, the driver will have to blow into a portable device, which will provide a reading of the individual's blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This test result will show whether the driver had a BAC that was at or above the legal limit of 0.08%. Your arrest will likely depend on your test results, though you can still be arrested if you are found to be below the legal limit. If you are arrested, you could be required to take further breath, blood and/or urine tests. These are called chemical tests.
Your Rights for Refusing a Test and the Consequences
You have a legal right to refuse a field sobriety or a chemical test. You should note, however, that there are certain repercussions for refusing chemical tests once you have been arrested, so you should carefully weigh the consequences before making this decision. Like many other states in the U.S., South Carolina has an "implied consent" law. This law states that anyone given driving privileges in South Carolina has automatically consented to chemical tests, which can be applied following arrest for suspected DUI. If a driver refuses to take a chemical test, that individual can have his or her driver's license suspended for at least six months. Furthermore, the test refusal can be used against the individual in court. The arresting officer is required to inform the driver of these consequences and of the person's right to request an administrative hearing within 30 days of his or her license suspension.
What Happens Next?
Once you are arrested, you will generally receive official criminal DUI charges, and you will have to have your case heard in court. If is in your best interest to have an experienced DUI attorney by your side through each phase of your court proceedings. There are many ways to effectively challenge DUI charges, even when there are test results indicating that you had a controlled substance in your system at the time of your arrest or that you were above the legal limit. Some DUI defenses include problems with how a field sobriety and chemical test was administered, a medical condition that might have made you fail the test, or mistakes made by law enforcement during the arrest process.
Our legal team at the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC works diligently for every single client, using the strongest methods that meet each person's individual needs. Contact our Lexington DUI lawyer immediately so we can help you begin the DUI defense process!