Police officers are trained to look for drunk drivers, especially during holiday periods, late at night or other times when people are most likely to have been drinking. More specifically, police are trained on how to observe your behavior during a traffic stop and look for enough evidence to make an arrest if they think you were driving drunk.
In South Carolina, you can be charged with a misdemeanor for a first-time DUI arrest. If convicted, you could face 2-30 days in jail, pay a $400 fine and have your driver's license suspended for six months. The conviction will then stay on your record for several years.
Sometimes, police make errors that lead to DUI convictions of people who are completely innocent. That's why it's important that you speak with an experienced South Carolina DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible if you were arrested. Your attorney will need to conduct a case evaluation and investigation to gain insight on how your arrest occurred.
Mistakes made during traffic stops
Common mistakes police make at traffic stops include:
- Making a traffic stop without a probable cause — Before a police officer can make a traffic stop, there has to be a legitimate reason. Police can't just pull you over because they believe that you're driving drunk. Legitimate reasons for a traffic stop include exceeding the posted speed limit; failing to stop at a stop sign or red light; failing to stay within the lines in the road; driving recklessly; or having a broken taillight.
- Making an arrest based on your statements — Police officers can't just make DUI arrests because you admitted to having a drink. They must investigate further and gather enough evidence to justify an arrest. The evidence must include results from a field sobriety test and breath test.
- Conducting a roadside breath test incorrectly — Sometimes police wait too long to administer breath tests and end up with skewed results. Breath tests must be administered within two hours of traffic stops. You are required to take a breath test under South Carolina's implied consent law, but the results can be disputed in court.
- Failing to administer standardized field sobriety tests — There are three standard field sobriety tests that officers should only use. These include the horizontal gaze nystagmus; walk-and-turn test; and the one-leg stand test. No other testing should be used and police must never base the evidence against you solely on a field sobriety test. There are also no legal consequences in South Carolina for refusing to take a field sobriety test.
Mistakes made after arrests
Common mistakes police make during DUI arrests include:
- Failing to explain your rights — Police officers must explain your rights when making an arrest. Failure to do so can result in your charges being dropped.
- Writing poor arrest reports — One police officer could make dozens of DUI arrests in a single year. While an arrest report doesn't necessarily serve as evidence in court, it refreshes an officer's memory of the arrest when giving testimony in court. Sometimes, when an arrest is made, police will do a poor job at documenting the DUI arrest and get certain information wrong.
- Poor chemical testing evidence — After an arrest is made, you will be given a chemical test at the police station. They may collect a blood or urine sample. One of the biggest mistakes police make when handling chemical test samples is failing to have a witness present. Samples often get mixed up or skewed from improper storage and fermentation.
Contact A South Carolina DUI defense lawyer
Attorney Matt Bodman is a former assistant district attorney in Richland County. He knows how the justice system in South Carolina works. If you were arrested and charged with DUI, he can launch a thorough investigation into your arrest. He can find out where errors occurred. Attorney Bodman can then dispute the evidence brought against by presenting the facts.
Don't take a chance with your freedom. Contact Matt Bodman, P.A. online and schedule your free consultation.