We talk to clients all the time who are upset that they were stopped and arrested at a DUI checkpoint in South Carolina. Their friends and family have all agreed with them that these checkpoints are illegal. When we first sit down and meet with these potential clients, we ask them what they think the law is regarding DUI checkpoints. The responses we get are very interesting indeed. Some of our criminal defense attorneys in Columbia are shocked at what they hear during these meetings. Others aren’t so surprised.
For some reason, people think that, because they read something on social media, it’s gospel. They don’t often realize that anybody can post a blog or article online and call themselves an expert. Unless you’re getting your information from one of the best DUI defense lawyers in Columbia, don’t put a whole lot of stock in it. By listening to armchair attorneys, a lot of our clients have found themselves behind bars. The next thing they know, they’re calling our office to help defend them against DUI charges.
Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about DUI checkpoints in South Carolina. Specifically, we’ll discuss the rights you have if you’re stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Columbia, South Carolina.
Like it Or Not, DUI Checkpoints are Legal in South Carolina
Like it or not, the police in South Carolina have every right to conduct a DUI checkpoint. While every state has their own laws as to how these checkpoints must be conducted, it’s not difficult for the police to justify an arrest for DUI at a checkpoint. If they happen to pull your vehicle over and detect an odor of alcohol or notice that you’re behaving strangely, they can treat it just like they would a regular traffic stop.
Once the officer has you pulled over, they will ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. They will also ask you to perform a field sobriety test. You have rights where both of these tests are concerned. We’ll talk about this in more detail below.
That Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Have Rights
We always tell our clients that, just because law enforcement is allowed to conduct DUI checkpoints, that doesn’t mean you lose your constitutional rights. The 4th amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees you freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. When it comes to a DUI checkpoint, this is usually where the challenges originate from. As we will explain below, if you exercise your rights and are subsequently arrested and charged with DUI, you should probably contact a criminal defense attorney in Columbia.
You Always Have the Right to Remain Silent
As with any other arrest, you always have the right to remain silent. Aside from providing the officer with a copy of your driver’s license, registration, and insurance, there’s not much more they can make you say. Of course, they will ask you for your name. If you refuse to provide this information, you can guarantee the encounter will not go pleasantly. There’s no reason to be antagonistic. All this will do is give the officer more of an incentive to arrest you and charge you with DUI.
You Legally Have the Right to Refuse the Breathalyzer Test
One thing you may have read on the internet that is true is that you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test in South Carolina. You just have to keep in mind that if you do refuse this test, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended for the period of one year. In fact, the police officer will likely confiscate your physical license during the DUI checkpoint.
Just because you refuse to take the breathalyzer test, that doesn’t mean they can’t arrest you and charge you with drunk driving. Of course, your criminal defense attorney in Columbia will be able to challenge this suspension through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Anybody whose license is automatically suspended due to their refusal to take a breathalyzer test has the right to a hearing. Odds are, you won’t be successful at this hearing since the officer had every right to confiscate your license.
You Also Have the Right to Refuse to Perform the Field Sobriety Test
One other right you have during a DUI checkpoint South Carolina is the right to refuse to perform the field sobriety test. If you do perform this test poorly, there’s no doubt you’ll be arrested for DUI. If you truly believe that you have no chance of performing the test satisfactorily, it may be in your best interest to refuse the test. However, if you do the agree to the field sobriety test, your attorney will be able to challenge the results. Since you can hire one of the best DUI defense lawyers in Columbia with our office, they have a better chance of doing this than somebody else
Contact One of the Best DUI Defense Lawyers in Columbia Today
If you were arrested while going through a DUI checkpoint in Columbia, South Carolina, you could be facing serious consequences. Just because it was a DUI checkpoint and not a normal traffic stop doesn’t mean the charges against you are any less. Of course, it’s in your best interest to hire one of the best DUI defense lawyers in Columbia. Not only will they challenge the fact that you were charged with DUI, but they may be able to challenge the legitimacy of the DUI checkpoint itself.
It’s a good idea to keep our information on file in case you are arrested for DUI. If it happened as a result of a DUI checkpoint, then your odds of beating the charges are better than if it was through a regular traffic stop. South Carolina law requires that law enforcement follow very strict guidelines when conducting a DUI checkpoint, If your criminal defense attorney in Colombia is able to challenge the checkpoint successfully, the charges against you will have to be dismissed.
With so much at stake, it’s not a good idea to try to handle this all by yourself. We recommend that you call our office and schedule your initial consultation the same day that you’re arrested. This way, your lawyer is there with you for your first appearance.