DUI Lawyer Charleston, SC
Too many people charged with drunk driving assume that they will be convicted. However, it is best to speak with a DUI lawyer before pleading guilty. There may be ways to contest the charges and protect your criminal record and driver’s license.
At Young & Young, Attorneys at Law, we have a team of former prosecutors and experienced criminal defense lawyers. We know what evidence to look for in DUI/DWI and boating while intoxicated (BWI) cases. We can review the police report and test results and quickly assess your case. If the prosecution’s case against you is weak, we will argue for the charges to be reduced or dismissed. If the prosecutor does not negotiate fairly, we will discuss taking the case to trial with you.
Our DUI lawyers represent adults, college students and juveniles in Charleston and surrounding areas.
DUI/DWI Offenses Are Crimes That Will Stay on Your Record
DUI/DWI offenses are not traffic violations; they are misdemeanors that will remain on your criminal record permanently. You can be charged with a felony under certain circumstances, including a third or higher DUI/DWI offense or a drunk driving offense that causes an accident or injury.
The penalties for conviction of a first-offense DUI/DWI in South Carolina may include:
- Jail time or probation
- Suspension of your driver’s license
- Fines, fees and court costs
- Alcohol abuse screening and education
- Installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
Subsequent DUI/DWI convictions will result in increased penalties such as mandatory jail sentences and the permanent loss of your driver’s license.
Reinstating a Suspended Driver’s License
In South Carolina, a DUI/DWI conviction or refusing a breathalyzer test will result in a driver’s license suspension. If you are pulled over while driving with a suspended license, you can be taken to jail and face a longer license suspension.
You don’t want to risk more penalties. Our DUI lawyers can help you get your license back. Reinstating your driver’s license is a lengthy process that is best handled by an experienced DUI lawyer. We can defend you against DUI/DWI charges and represent you at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) administrative license hearing as well. As former prosecutors, we can identify weak points in the state’s case against you. We know what questions to ask and what arguments to make at each step of the case.
You must request a DMV administrative hearing within 30 days of your DUI/DWI arrest and/or notice of suspension. Do not miss this deadline. We can request the hearing on your behalf if you contact us right away.
If you are convicted of drunk driving charges, your license may be suspended for six months for a first offense. When appropriate, we will argue for a hardship license that allows you to drive on a limited basis to work, to school or to run family errands.
Your license can also be suspended if you are convicted of drug possession while in a vehicle or if you accumulate 12 traffic violation points. We represent people in all types of license suspension cases so speak with us to learn how we may help you reinstate your driving privileges.
Challenging Breath and Field Sobriety Tests
Failing a breath test does not necessarily mean you will be convicted of DUI/DWI.
After years of prosecuting cases for South Carolina, we have seen enough fact patterns and cases to quickly analyze whether the state has a good case. We will examine the breath test and standardized field sobriety tests you were given to determine if the results are admissible. If they are not, we will argue for the evidence to be suppressed. This may lead to reduction or dismissal of the charges.
In South Carolina, arrests, field sobriety tests and Breathalyzer tests are supposed to be videotaped. If they were not or the recording is too poor to view, we can argue that your rights were violated.
When we are able to view arrest tapes, we will determine whether police followed proper procedure at all stages of the arrest and testing. Did the officer correctly use his or her observations of your driving and behavior? Were the standardized field sobriety tests administered correctly and under good conditions?
If you are arrested, you will be asked to take a breath test at the police station. We will examine this part of the tape, as well as the results of the test. It is important to see whether the officer followed protocol when administering the test. We may also examine the breath test machine’s calibration or maintenance history and any factors that may have affected the results.
Commonly Asked Questions About Drunk Driving
Is DUI or DWI a serious offense?
Absolutely. A drunk driving charge is much more serious than a traffic violation. They are misdemeanors that will remain on your criminal record permanently. In addition, certain elements can lead to you being charged with felony DUI. For example, a drunk driving offense that causes an accident or injury can be charged as a felony.
How can they charge me with a DUI if they pulled me over for speeding?
During a valid traffic stop — which can include the full range of offenses from speeding to not wearing a seat belt to not coming to a complete stop — the officer is always on high alert. The officer might observe you slurring your speech, notice the smell of alcohol in the vehicle or see an open beer can in the cup holder. Any of these observations can lead to a field sobriety test that might result in a drunk driving charge.
What is a field sobriety test?
Most states, including South Carolina, have standardized three types of tests an officer can perform in the field to gauge a driver’s coordination and ability to safely operate a moving vehicle. The three tests are:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN)
- One-leg stand
While not approved as standard, the officer might ask you to perform other tasks — such as reciting the alphabet — that he or she believes are appropriate to test your physical or mental capability.
Can I challenge a breath test result?
A breath test result seems like a crucial piece of evidence against you. These results, however, are notoriously unreliable. Your defense attorney will likely start asking questions such as: Was the officer properly trained on administering the test? Was the machine in proper working order? Was the machine cleaned and stored properly between examinations?