Being pulled over by police unexpectedly can be a frightening situation, especially if you weren't aware of the reason for being stopped. It could have been anything from a broken taillight to a minor traffic infraction.
If a police officer suspects that you have been drinking, you may be probed for further evidence. It's critical to know how your response can either make matters better or worse.
What actions should I take during a traffic stop?
You can hire an attorney to represent you in court, but the actions you take when being stopped by police can give your attorney the tools needed to fight your charges. Here is what you can do:
- Remaining calm and following procedure: When an officer pulls you over, it's important that you remain calm, roll down your window, and keep your hands on the wheel. When the officer approaches your car and asks for your driver's license and registration, you are required to provide these.
- Remaining silent: This is one that gets a lot of people in trouble. Anything you tell an officer during a traffic stop can either lead to further probing or be used as evidence against you when your case goes to trial. It's also likely that the traffic stop is being recorded. You are only required to provided your full name and personal information found on your driver's license. You are not required to answer any questions asked by the officer.
- Taking a field sobriety test: An officer may only ask you to perform a field sobriety test to make physical observations and determine whether or not you are impaired. These tests are highly flawed since they are difficult to perform and aren't always administered correctly. Luckily, you have the right to refuse a field sobriety test in South Carolina without facing any legal consequences. Furthermore, your refusal can't be used against you in court. Your field sobriety test results, on the other hand, can be used against you.
- Taking a breath test: A breath test is administered when an officer has you blow into a small device called a Breathalyzer. This device determines your blood alcohol concentration level. In South Carolina, the legal limit is 0.08 percent. While you can refuse a breath test, doing so will come with legal consequences under South Carolina's implied consent law. For a first offense, you can face a 180-day license suspension, for example. If you decide to take a breath test, the results can be disputed in court. That's because Breathalyzers have been found to be unreliable at times.
Should I hire an attorney?
You should always consult with an experienced South Carolina DUI defense attorney if you are facing DUI charges. Following the above procedures can make it much easier for your attorney to fight the charges in court.
Attorney Matt Bodman has nearly two decades of experience helping people charged with DUI fight the charges. To find out how he can help you, contact Matt Bodman, P.A. online or call our Columbia office at (866) 487-9077.