Drinking and driving is a severe offense. It can endanger your life and others. It can lead to terrible accidents with injury, death, and property damage. In South Carolina, the laws governing alcohol and driving are quite strict. This is with the goal of curbing this dangerous behavior in the state. However, many people still drink alcohol and operate a motor vehicle. This may lead to their arrest and facing legal charges. There are two possible charges involving drinking and driving in Columbia, SC. These include driving with unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC) and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs (DUI). Many people are aware of DUI charges, since these are the most common.
On the other hand, DUAC charges are not so common. Depending on the details of your case, these charges can be easy to fight. You may even get them dismissed with the help of experienced DUI attorneys. They will advise you on what to do. They’ll tell you best way to deal with the charge such that it can be dropped. That’s why you need to contact your DUI lawyers right after you are arrested. It’s easy to make mistakes on your own, but DUI attorneys will help you.
These are the two charges that you may get if you are arrested for drinking and driving. They have similarities, but a few distinct points make them different.
You probably already know about driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. You can get a DUI charge after being stopped by the police officer for reasonable suspicion on intoxication. For an officer to have suspicion, you may have made a few mistakes when driving. You might have swerve off the road, driven past the center line, or had inconsistent speed.
A DUI is a charge given for drunk driving. It means that you were visibly impaired due to being on drugs or alcohol. To get a DUI charge, there must be proof you couldn’t correctly operate the vehicle while intoxicated.
A DUAC charge is a little different from the DUI in that it merely requires that one have a BAC of more than .08% when driving. The driver will be required to submit to a breathalyzer test right away. If it is above the legal limit, they are arrested for DUAC. There does not need to be any proof that the driver was unable to operate their vehicle at the time.
Many people consider a DUAC charge lesser than a DUI. But this is not the case, since both of them have similar penalties. Both will go on your record. If you become a repeat offender, you’ll get worse sentences than before.
It’s common to be charged with DUI and later have it changed to DUAC. Many times you could be asked to admit to driving with unlawful alcohol content. In return the police might offer to drop your DUI charges. It might seem like a good deal, but it’s not.
Often a police officer will approach your with a ‘deal’ to drop the DUI charges against you. In exchange, you will admit to DUAC. It may seem like an attractive offer. But you need to consider some things before consenting:
There’s only one benefit that you may have in accepting to DUAC charge in exchange for dropped DUI charges. If your employment contract say DUI convictions cause termination, accepting the DUAC may be preferable. Having a DUAC in your record will not lead you to lose your job in that instance. Pleading guilty to a DUAC in this case will protect your job.
It may be easier to dispute a DUAC charge than a DUI. That is only true if it is the original charge. If you entered a guilty plea for the DUAC, it’s almost impossible to beat it. You will end up facing the penalties.
Beating a DUAC charge requires that you successfully challenge the breathalyzer test results. The thing that holds weight in court is the blood alcohol concentration result that you got. Through your DUI lawyers, you may find ways to dispute the results. If you present your case well, you may have an actual chance of winning.
Here are some factors that can be helpful if your DUI lawyer challenges your test results:
The police officer needs to have a valid reason why they pulled you over. They must have clear suspicion if they request you to take the test. It’s different if the police officer asked you to stop for other reasons and then find you have a high BAC. Then the evidence is considered circumstantial. Having proven that, the evidence is suppressed, and the case may get a dismissal.
The manner in which the test is conducted may affect the results that you get. This is why your lawyer can dispute how the test was done. They may be able to prove to the court that the officer wasn’t qualified to administer the test. If the officer wasn’t qualified to give the test, the evidence is disqualified. This means there will be no case against you.
If you were arrested and charged at a checkpoint after failing a breathalyzer test, the results can be dismissed. The evidence is circumstantial. This is because the police officer did not have any probable cause to require you to take a breathalyzer test. As a result, the evidence will not hold up in court.
There’s also a chance that the police officer did not have a permit to set up a roadblock. Many officers set checkpoints up as a way to trap people drinking while intoxicated. This is unlawful. Your lawyer can find out if the officer had permission to put up the roadblock. If no, they can request that the evidence is suppressed in your case. This will almost always lead to a dismissal of the case.
The breathalyzer needs to be often calibrated to ensure correct readings when used. However, some breathalyzers are not calibrated. If your DUI attorneys happen to suspect that was the case, they can have the evidence thrown out. They can achieve this by requesting calibration records to find out when the device was last checked. If the last calibration was a while ago, this violates breathalyzer laws. The evidence automatically becomes inadmissible.
In South Carolina, there is a standard breathalyzer that police officers are allowed to use. In some cases the officer used outdated equipment or one that is not permitted by law. The evidence becomes inadmissible in this case. Your DUI lawyers will assist in getting all the information for your case. They’ll look into any wrongful use of incorrect devices. They’ll do their very best to get you off without being sentenced.
After a BAC result of more than .08%, the police officer may request you to take a field sobriety test. He may do this to gather more proof to show that you are intoxicated. In South Carolina, you are not legally bound to take the field sobriety tests. You can refuse the officer’s request. There are no penalties for a refusal to take this test. Because of this, you are advised to refuse take it. This is because it may end up getting you into more trouble.
It is vital that you reach out to your attorney right after you are arrested. They will guide you on what to do. Doing so will prevent you from making any mistakes that may end up costing you dearly.
Our team of DUI attorneys at Kendrick and Leonard is always ready to listen to your case. They’ll help you with a foolproof way out. Don’t be tempted by the police officers. You may not gain as much as you would have hoped. Contact us for an evaluation of your case. We guarantee you will either have your case dismissed or get you a reduced sentence.