Seeing blue lights in your rearview mirror makes your heart race. The situation becomes even tenser if you’ve had a drink or two. Being pulled over for suspicion of DUI is completely nerve-wracking. It’s important that you understand the process you will undergo during a South Carolina traffic stop.
Always stop for an officer with lights activated
Even though you might think you didn’t do anything wrong, or that you aren’t over the legal limit of 0.08 BAC, it is always in your best interest to stop for an officer with their lights activated. When a police vehicle pulls up behind your vehicle with its lights on, always yield and pull to the side of the road or into a parking lot. Continuing to drive, or trying to evade the officer, will only make matters much worse.
The officer evaluates your driving habits and initial contact
Prior to initiating the traffic stop, the officer will be monitoring your driving habits. If you are swerving, driving at night without headlights on, speeding, driving too slow for the conditions, hitting parked cars, or showing any other signs of impaired driving, the officer will initiate the traffic stop.
During the initial contact with you, the officer will look at your eyes to see if they are bloodshot, will try to smell any alcohol on your breath or coming from your vehicle, and will watch how you exit your vehicle. If you stumble, or if any signs of intoxication or drug use are present, the officer will request that you undergo field sobriety tests (FSTs).
Are FSTs required?
The law in South Carolina does not require law enforcement to give FSTs, or require drivers to submit to FSTs when a police officer suspects they are driving under the influence. You are within your rights to decline these tests. However, if the officer concludes after an investigation that you are potentially under the influence, he or she can still place you under arrest and bring you to the police station for further testing.
The chemical breath test
South Carolina officers do not issue breath tests on the side of the road when they suspect a driver of being under the influence. They need to rely on the FSTs and their own investigation to decide whether or not to place someone under arrest. When you are brought to the station, authorities will administer a chemical breath test. You are required to take this test under the South Carolina implied consent law. You can refuse the test, but doing so could result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for six months.
You are permitted to request a temporary alcohol license via an administrative hearing, which you must attend within 30 days of your arrest. If you are granted a temporary license, it will permit you to drive throughout South Carolina without any restrictions. If you do not attend the hearing within 30 days, you lose your right to the hearing and the license suspension will begin immediately, preventing you from driving without restrictions.
As with any arrest, your fingerprints will be taken and entered or run through the national and South Carolina criminal database. This is something you should worry about, because once your fingerprints are in the system, they remain there. This means that if convicted, you could lose your job or have trouble landing a new job in the future, when a background check is conducted and a DUI arrest appears.
To schedule a consultation following a DUI arrest in South Carolina, be sure to contact the Holland Law, LLC, office in either York, Lancaster, or Chester County. Call our office at 803-219-2630, or complete the contact form found online today. Mr. Holland operates offices in Fort Mill and Rock Hill.
Tom Holland previously served as the General Counsel for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, the City Solicitor for the City of Lancaster, and as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Sixth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. He is a single father, and through his own divorce gained valuable insight he now uses to represent Fort Mill and Rock Hill, SC families with the best representation. Learn more about Tom Holland.