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How Long Does a DUI Case Take?

How Long Does a DUI Case Take?

When you are charged with DUI in South Carolina you are given an initial court date, typically just a few weeks later. This is for a “bench trial”, and it is an appointment for you to go in front of a judge and plead guilty or have the judge decide your case.

The fastest way to resolve a DUI case is to go to the first court date and plead guilty. Any steps made to dispute the case add time to the process.

We are hired by those who do not want to plead guilty, and who also are trying to avoid being convicted of DUI. With the DUI conviction comes the permanent criminal record, license suspension, ADSAP, SR-22, and interlock device. Our clients are seeking to avoid those penalties if at all possible.

Our first step is to file paperwork with the court notifying them that we are contesting the charge. This will automatically cancel the first court date (this is a legal procedure honored in every court in South Carolina).

At the same time we file discovery motions. This is to require the officer and\or prosecutor to turn over materials that they have about the case. This usually includes items such as the roadside video, bodycam video, narrative incident report, and the score sheet from any field sobriety tests administered (tests such as the officer looking into your eyes, or asking you to talk a straight line).

Most area courts will then schedule a pre-case meeting, prior to any contested trial date. This is a chance for the defendant to potentially accept any proposal to dismiss and\or reduce charges. The rule for clients in our office is that DUI charges must be dismissed and\or reduced to our client’s satisfaction, or we do not accept any deal. If a deal is accepted it can be finalized at the pre-case meeting (at pre-case meetings nothing happens that our client doesn’t agree to).

In many area courts it can take 3-5 months for a DUI case that is resolved by an agreement (such as a dismissal\reduction). Cases that require a contested court date may take longer. Several years ago the average time was significantly long (regularly one year or more), however new procedures have speed things up in most (but not all) courts. Cases involving a blood or urine test can also take additional time due to the fact it may take 6 months or more in order for SLED to conduct their analysis.

The exact time a DUI case takes is heavily dependent on the court the case is assigned to. Each court has their own docket and own way of moving cases. There is no set time-frame or rule that says how long the court is allowed to take to schedule the case. Many times people think lawyers have some procedure to “push the case back”, but a long waiting period is usually just an automatic result of the court docket.


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