Orangeburg DUI Attorney: Is an Open Container an Offense?

For the most part, unless you’re an Orangeburg DUI attorney, you probably aren’t familiar with the DUI laws in South Carolina. Even practicing attorneys who don’t specialize in DUI or criminal law are unfamiliar with how these cases work. If you base what you know about the law on television or social media, then you probably don’t have a good working knowledge of the criminal justice system in South Carolina. This is why it’s critically important that you contact a criminal defense lawyer in Orangeburg as soon as possible after your arrest.

One of the first questions you’ll probably have is whether the cops had the right to pull you over in the first place. You’re also going to want to know if the officers had the right to arrest you and charge you with DUI. You may have passed the breathalyzer test and had a blood alcohol concentration lower than the legal standard of .08. You may have also performed okay on the field sobriety test. And, from what you understand, the only reason you were even arrested and charged with DUI is because the cops found an open container of alcohol in your vehicle. You’re upset and you feel that you were unjustly prosecuted.

As much as we wish we could give you good news, law enforcement has every right to arrest you if they believe that you are operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. All they need to prove is that they had a reasonable suspicion that you were impaired to the point where you could not operate your vehicle safely. Finding an open can or bottle of alcohol, especially if it’s hard liquor, is certainly a basis for reasonable suspicion in a DUI case.

Here, we will discuss open container laws in South Carolina. We will also discuss the standard that the cops must meet in order to make a lawful arrest for DUI. More importantly, we will drive the point home that you need to retain an Orangeburg DUI attorney as soon as possible.

All the Police Need is Reasonable Cause to Arrest You for DUI

When it comes to being pulled over by the police, the standard they must meet is very low. All they must show is that they had reasonable suspicion that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

 

They can justify their suspicion by referring to any of the following things:

  • you were weaving in and out of traffic lanes
  • you stopped at a red light or a stop sign for way longer than a normal driver would
  • you had recently pulled out of the parking lot of a drinking establishment
  • you do not have your headlights on while driving

Any of these things are enough to substantiate the police officers pulling you over for suspected DUI.

Having an Open Container is a Sign That You’ve Been Drinking Alcohol

In addition to proving that they had reasonable suspicion to pull you over, the police must also show that they had reasonable cause to arrest you for DUI. This standard is harder to meet then simple reasonable suspicion. Some of the things that law enforcement will point to in order to substantiate the arrest and their charging you with DUI include the following:

  • they smelled alcohol as they approached your vehicle
  • they smelled alcohol as soon as you open the window and started a conversation
  • your eyes were red and bloodshot
  • you were sweaty and did not seem to be able to focus properly
  • you were slurring your words and could not keep up your end of the conversation
  • the officers can see an open container of alcohol in plain sight

As you can see, the last sig listed is having an open container of alcohol. If the first thing the police officer see when they pull you over is that you have alcohol either in your console or somewhere else in the vehicle, of course they’re going to arrest you for DUI. At that point, your only option is to hire a criminal defense lawyer in Orangeburg and see if they can somehow poke holes in the state’s case and reach a favorable plea deal on your behalf.

You Should Call an Experienced Orangeburg DUI Attorney Right Away

If you’ve recently been arrested and charged with DUI, then you’re facing some rather stiff penalties. It doesn’t matter what part of South Carolina you live in. You’ll be facing possible jail time, heavy fines, and a suspension of your driver’s license. Unless you have a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Orangeburg, you may not have a chance to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. With so much at stake, it would not be wise to try to handle this all by yourself.

We suggest that you call our office, from the jail cell if possible, and schedule your initial consultation. Your first appearance will be scheduled in a matter of days. If you don’t have an Orangeburg DUI attorney by then, there’s no telling what will happen. The prosecutor is not going to negotiate a plea deal with a pro se defendant. There may be some point closer to trial when you may have a few minutes to speak with them. However, it is very difficult to convince a prosecutor to cut you a good deal.

Our criminal defense lawyers in Orangeburg have spent years, even decades developing professional relationships with the State Prosecutor’s Office. While we have no power to work miracles, we can try to negotiate a favorable plea that will keep you out of jail. If there’s enough evidence on your side, your Orangeburg DUI attorney may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed entirely.

We suggest that you use your one phone call from jail to contact our office. If that isn’t possible, call a friend or family member who will make the call for you.

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