A DUI arrest can change your life. There is simply no other way to put it. From losing your driver’s license to losing your job – not to mention the possibility of facing jail time – the consequences of getting arrested for drunk driving in South Carolina can be severe.
With this in mind, when facing a DUI charge, there is a lot you need to know. There are steps you need to take, there are mistakes you need to avoid, and there are realities with which you need to come to terms. Previously, we wrote about seven mistakes to avoid after a DUI arrest in South Carolina. Now, here are seven steps you can (and should) take to mitigate the consequences of your arrest:
7 Steps to Take After a DUI Arrest in South Carolina
Step #1: Know Your Rights
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime in South Carolina, and this means that, as a criminal defendant, you have many legal rights. You need to be aware of these rights so that you can assert them effectively, and so that you can discuss any potential violations of your legal rights with your DUI defense lawyer. If the police or prosecutors violate your rights, there are legal remedies available, and you may be able to use these remedies to avoid a conviction at trial.
You had rights during your traffic stop, you had the right rights when you were at the police station, and you have rights now has your DUI case is pending in South Carolina state court. These rights include (but are not limited to):
- The right to an attorney
- The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures
- he right to remain silent
- The right to know the state’s evidence
- The right to a speedy trial
Step #2: Get a Lawyer
Since you are reading this, we will assume that you haven’t yet hired a lawyer. Now is the time to do so. DUI cases are complex, and the consequences are severe, and you cannot afford to try to handle your case on your own.
From helping you assert your constitutional rights to simply helping you understand what is going on in your DUI case, there are many ways that an experienced South Carolina DUI lawyer will be able to help you. You only get one chance to defend yourself. If you make mistakes because you don’t know any better, those mistakes could haunt you for the rest of your life.
Learn more: Why Do You Need a Lawyer for SC DUI Charges?
Step #3: Get Ready for Your Administrative Hearing
One fact most people don’t know about South Carolina DUI cases is that there are two entirely separate legal processes involved. There is the criminal justice process that culminates with a trial in court (unless your attorney can secure a favorable pre-trial resolution); but, before your trial, there is an administrative hearing.
When you get arrested for DUI, you will lose your license as the result of an “administrative suspension.” This administrative suspension happens automatically before your trial unless you request an administrative hearing. During your administrative hearing, your lawyer can present arguments for why your license should not be suspended, and this is the only way to protect your driver’s license while your DUI case is pending.
Step #4: Learn about the Consequences of a DUI Conviction
If you get convicted of driving under the influence, the criminal penalties you will face will depend on your criminal history. In South Carolina, repeat offenders are punished far more severely than individuals charged with first-time DUIs—though even first offenses carry the potential for up to 30 days in jail.
To make sure you give your DUI case the attention it deserves, you need to know what is at stake. Once you know, you will almost certainly have a different perspective on the severity of your situation.
Learn more: Criminal Penalties for a DUI in South Carolina
Step #5: Separate Fact from Fiction
Just as there are steps you need to take and mistakes you need to avoid, there are facts you need to know and myths of which you need to be aware. When defending against a South Carolina DUI charge, you cannot afford to make bad decisions based on faulty information. You need to know your rights, you need to know what to expect in court, and you need to know what it takes for the prosecutor’s office to secure a conviction.
Step #6: Get Proactive About Your Defense
When facing a DUI charge, one of the worst things you can do is sit back and let the criminal justice process run its course. While you have legal rights, the system is not designed to protect you, and the consequences of inaction can be severe.
Instead, you need to get proactive about your defense. Avoid making assumptions, and make sure you are doing everything in your power to secure a favorable result. Even if you were drinking and driving, you could still have defenses to DUI.
Learn more: Charged with DUI in South Carolina?
Step #7: Work Closely with Your Lawyer
Finally, while your lawyer will handle much of your case for you, you will still need to remain actively involved. From discussing possible defenses to preparing for your day in court, the more engaged you are, the better the outcome of your case is likely to be.
Arrested for DUI? Speak with a Rock Hill, SC DUI Defense Lawyer Today
Have you been arrested for driving under the influence in South Carolina? To schedule an initial confidential consultation at The Law Offices of Michael L. Brown, Jr. in Rock Hill, call 803-328-8822 or request an appointment online now.