After a DUI arrest in Columbia, SC, you face the threat of losing your license and of being left with a criminal record. Depending upon whether you have any past convictions, whether you were in a crash, or how high your blood alcohol concentration was at the time of the arrest, you could also possibly face time in jail. You need to be sure to respond appropriately when faced with criminal charges that could change your life. It is important to know what to do after a DUI arrest so you can make strategic choices immediately following your interaction with law enforcement.
What to Do After a DUI Arrest?
In South Carolina, the first thing you will need to address after a DUI arrest is the fact you face an administrative suspension of your driver's license for a month if your blood alcohol concentration is .15 or higher. If you refuse a blood alcohol concentration test, your license is automatically suspended for six months.
An administrative suspension is automatic. Police may take your license immediately at the time when you are arrested for DUI and found to have a high BAC. This administrative suspension is separate from a criminal charge, and the suspension goes into effect before you have a chance to defend yourself. You will receive a notice of suspension providing you with information, including how to request a hearing. If you want to keep driving before a requested hearing, you will need to request a temporary alcohol restricted license (TARL). This will allow you to still do essential driving until a decision is made at the hearing. You must act quickly both to request a hearing and to try to get a TARL so you can drive.
You will also need to address the criminal charges pending against you. This means deciding how to plead to the charges and either trying to negotiate a favorable plea agreement or preparing to fight for an acquittal in court. If you want to plead guilty, you should ensure you have an experienced attorney who can talk with the prosecutor on your behalf and try to get you a deal wherein you plead to lesser charges or get a lighter sentence than you might otherwise receive. If you want to try for an acquittal, you will need to begin preparing arguments and developing a legal strategy right away.
To get an acquittal, you don't have to prove you didn't violate the law. The prosecutor has the burden of proving guilty in a criminal case, so it is possible to avoid being acquitted of drunk driving just by introducing doubt. You may wish to consult with expert witnesses who can testify about the problems with the BAC testing or the way evidence was handled in your case. You may also try to file a motion to suppress evidence to present any evidence from being used in court which was collected in violation of your constitutional rights. An attorney can help to prepare your case.