Drunk driving arrests increase during the holiday season. Statistics show that the number of drunk drivers goes up during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and the police do everything they can to make sure these drunk drivers don’t cause serious or fatal accidents. So, if you have received a holiday DUI in South Carolina, you are not alone. Unfortunately, this does not do anything to help your situation.
Given the risks associated with drunk driving, prosecutors and judges in South Carolina take DUI cases very seriously. This is true regardless of the time of year. With this in mind, if you got a DUI during the holiday season, here are 10 important facts you need to know:
1. You Cannot Ignore Your DUI Until After the Holidays
The courts aren’t going to handle your DUI case on your schedule. As much as you might like to ignore your DUI until after the holiday season is over, this is not an option you have available. You need to prioritize your defense, and you need to make sure you will be in town when you need to go to court.
2. Missing Your Court Date Can Have Severe Consequences
What happens if you miss your court date? While there are a number of potential consequences, the most likely consequence is that either (i) the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest, or (ii) the judge will find you guilty in your absence. Neither of these are outcomes that you want to risk.
3. The Courts Are Open and Operating This Holiday Season
While the coronavirus pandemic largely shut down South Carolina’s court system in 2020, the courts are open and operating this holiday season. Your DUI case will move forward, and you will face severe consequences if you do not defend yourself effectively.
4. There Are Multiple DUI-Related Charges in South Carolina
While it is common to simply refer to getting a “DUI,” there are actually several different types of drunk driving offenses under South Carolina law. To make sure you are asserting a strategic defense, you need to know which specific charge (or charges) you are facing. For example, if you have been charged with driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC), all that matters is your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The fact that you were driving safely is not a defense. If you have been charged with an implied consent violation, this will add complexity (and consequences) to your case.
5. A DUI Conviction Can Have Several Consequences
Regardless of the specific charge (or charges) you are facing, a conviction can have severe consequences. While the penalties for felony DUIs are particularly severe, even an “ordinary” DUI case can lead to fines, surcharges, jail time, loss of driving privileges, and other penalties.
6. Getting Arrested Doesn’t Mean You are Guilty
An arrest is not a guilty verdict. The fact that you got arrested does not mean you are guilty, nor does it necessarily mean that you will be found guilty in court. Even if you got behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, you still may not have committed a DUI.
7. There Are Several Possible Defenses To DUI Charges
In fact, there are numerous possible defenses to all types of DUI charges in South Carolina. Did your BAC rise after you got pulled over? Was the breathalyzer device improperly calibrated? Did the arresting officer improperly perform the field sobriety tests? Did the arresting officer violate your constitutional rights? These are just a few examples of the many different issues that can give rise to defenses in South Carolina DUI cases.
8. Prosecutors Have the Burden of Proof
Another key fact to remember is that the prosecution always has the burden of proof. If prosecutors cannot prove you are guilty, then it doesn’t matter if you were driving drunk. It only takes one missing fact, one missing piece of evidence, or one misguided argument to entitle you to walk free.
9. You May Be Eligible for a South Carolina Diversion Program
But, let’s assume for a second that you are guilty and prosecutors can prove it. Is it still worth hiring a lawyer to fight your DUI charge?
Yes, absolutely. Your lawyer will still be able to work to secure a reduced sentence, and your lawyer can also determine if you are eligible for one of South Carolina’s diversion programs. If you qualify for a diversion program and you complete the program successfully, your DUI case will be wiped from your criminal record.
10. Hiring a DUI Defense Lawyer Can Be the Less Costly Option
Given the costs of a DUI conviction, hiring a defense lawyer will be the less costly option for most individuals. By fighting to help you avoid a conviction, obtain a reduced sentence, or secure entry into a diversion program, an experienced DUI defense lawyer can save you money following a DUI arrest. Don’t forget, the consequences of a DUI don’t end with your sentence. When you have a DUI on your record, your education, your job, your financial standing, and your reputation can all be negatively affected.
In short, if you are facing a holiday DUI charge in South Carolina, you need to take action to protect yourself, and you have every reason to consult with a defense lawyer as soon as possible. Ignoring your case – even for a week – is a mistake, and it is a mistake that you cannot afford to make.
Get a Free Consultation with a Rock Hill, SC DUI Defense Lawyer
Our lawyers represent individuals facing all types of DUI charges in South Carolina. If you’ve been arrested during the holiday season, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free and confidential consultation. To speak with an experienced Rock Hill, SC DUI defense lawyer in confidence as soon as possible, call 803-328-8822 or tell us how we can reach you online now.