The police in South Carolina target drunk drivers year-round. If you have been arrested for drunk driving in South Carolina, should you fight your charge? Or, should you plead guilty and move on with your life?
You Need to Fight Your South Carolina DUI Charge
When facing a DUI charge, you need to fight your charge by all means available. Getting arrested for DUI is not like getting a ticket for speeding or another traffic offense. In South Carolina, DUIs carry substantial penalties, and having a conviction on your record can negatively impact your life for years to come.
An experienced DUI defense lawyer will be able to help you regardless of the circumstances surrounding your arrest. There are several ways to fight a DUI charge in South Carolina—including ways to fight your charge even if you were drunk behind the wheel. Rather than simply accepting whatever consequences the judge decides to hand down, an experienced lawyer can help you take control of your case and ensure the consequences are no greater than necessary.
10 Reasons Not to Plead Guilty To a DUI in South Carolina
Here are 10 reasons not to plead guilty to a DUI in South Carolina:
1. You Might Not Be Guilty
Alcohol affects different people differently, and it takes time for alcohol to impair your ability to drive. Even if you were drinking before you got behind the wheel, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you violated South Carolina law. When facing a DUI charge, it is critical that you not make any assumptions, but instead make informed decisions based on an experienced DUI defense lawyer’s advice.
2. Your Traffic Stop May Have Been Unlawful
If the police conducted an unlawful traffic stop, all of the evidence they collected could be inadmissible in court. If prosecutors don’t have admissible evidence, they won’t be able to (or shouldn’t be able to) secure a conviction. While racial profiling is one example of an issue that can make a traffic stop unlawful, there are many more issues you may be able to raise as well.
3. The Police May Have Violated Your Rights on the Side of the Road
In addition to an unlawful traffic stop, you could also have a defense if the police violated your rights on the side of the road. If the arresting officer failed to adequately explain your rights under South Carolina’s implied consent law or conducted a custodial interrogation without reading your Miranda rights, these are both issues that could provide you with a defense in court.
4. The Police May Have Improperly Administered the Breathalyzer
When administering the breathalyzer, the police are required to follow strict protocols and procedures. Improper breathalyzer administration can lead to unreliable results; and, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading is unreliable, prosecutors should not be able to use it as evidence against you.
5. The Police May Have Improperly Administered the Field Sobriety Tests
The field sobriety tests (FSTs) are notoriously unreliable, and improper administration of these tests can render your “failure” virtually meaningless. From failing to adequately explain the tests to incorrectly interpreting your performance, numerous issues can raise questions about the validity of your FST results.
6. The Police May Have Mishandled the Evidence in Your Case
You may also be able to avoid a conviction if the police mishandled the evidence in your case. For example, if the police failed to properly document your FST results or catalog your breathalyzer results, these are both issues that could work to your advantage.
7. The Prosecutors Might Violate Your Rights
In addition to police mistakes, prosecutorial mistakes can also provide defenses in South Carolina DUI cases. If prosecutors violate your rights, this could provide you with a defense as well.
One of the most common prosecutorial mistakes involves failure to disclose exculpatory evidence. If prosecutors have evidence that suggests they won’t be able to prove their case against you, you are entitled to know about it, and their failure to disclose it could violate your constitutional right to a fair trial.
8. You May Qualify for Pre-Trial Diversion
Even if you were driving drunk and prosecutors can prove it, you may still be able to avoid a conviction by entering into one of South Carolina’s pre-trial diversion programs. When you enter into one of these programs, your case is “diverted” from the court system, and your DUI charge will go away if you complete the program successfully.
9. Your Lawyer May Be Able to Negotiate a Plea Deal
If the evidence is stacked against you and you aren’t eligible for one of South Carolina’s pre-trial diversion programs, then your best option may be to seek a plea deal. While negotiating a plea deal does involve pleading guilty, you will be entering your plea with advance knowledge of the consequences. Your DUI defense lawyer will negotiate to limit these consequences as much as possible, and you will have the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether to accept the deal or take your case to trial.
10. You Have Too Much At Stake
Finally, perhaps the single most important reason to fight your DUI charge is that you have too much at stake. In South Carolina, DUI convictions carry fines, loss of driving privileges, jail time, and other penalties. If you plead guilty, the judge will impose a sentence based on the limited information he or she has available—and this almost certainly will not go in your favor. Drunk driving convictions can have various collateral consequences as well, and you owe it to yourself to avoid these consequences if at all possible.
Contact Rock Hill DUI Defense Lawyer Michael L. Brown, Jr.
If you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, we strongly encourage you to contact us before making any decisions that could negatively impact your future. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with Rock Hill DUI defense lawyer Michael L. Brown, Jr., call us at 803-328-8822 or tell us how we can reach you online today.