If you are pulled over or have to go through any police roadblock there are things you can do to minimize the chances of you being arrested for a South Carolina DUI or DUAC, or ensuring that you have the best opportunity to fight your case in the unfortunate event you are arrested.
1. Don't disclose to the officer that you have been drinking: You have an absolute right to remain silent. You are under no obligation to disclose any personal information to the officer, including whether or not you have consumed any alcohol. Any admission, including something as harmless as "one or two beers" can be used against you later in Court to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest. Failing to answer the officer's questions cannot be used against you.
2. Have your license, registration and proof of insurance handy: When you are stopped by the police for any reason the first thing they are going to want to see are your required documents. Keeping them all readily accessible will make it easier to provide them to the officer immediately upon request. This will minimize the time the officer spends hovering by your window and will avoid the officer being able to use the argument that you fumbled your paperwork to justify initiating a DUI investigation.
3. Don't participate in any field sobriety testing: You have an absolute right to decline all field sobriety testing. This includes reciting the alphabet, counting backwards, walking heel to toe or allowing the officer to look into your eyes (HGN test). The results of these tests are all subjective and graded and scored entirely in the officer's mind. Your cooperation on these tests can always be used against you in Court. Your failure to perform these tests cannot be used against you.
4. Don't cooperate with the breathalyzer: You do not have an obligation to provide a breath sample. If you do however the results can be used against you to justify a DUAC or DUI charge. Further providing a breath sample can actually result in a higher level of DUI or DUAC charge, including a higher fine or a longer jail sentence. The officer will threaten you with an implied consent license suspension but this can be challenged immediately afterwards and your license can be restored in as little as 7-10 days.
5. Don't keep alcohol in your vehicle: Often times the officer's first indication that a driver may be impaired is the beer or drink sitting in the cupholder. Open container of beer or wine carries up to thirty days in jail and open liquor also carries a license suspension. Any alcohol in your vehicle can be used to justify the DUI investigation and an arrest. The best policy would be that if you transport alcohol, even unopened bottles, that you keep it in the trunk.
To learn more about South Carolina DUI law, including your legal rights to fight your DUI arrest contact the
Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, at (803) 359-3301.