If you have ever been pulled over on suspicion of DUI, you know how scary it can be. You see the red and blue lights behind you and start to panic. You may not realize it, but the things you do in the moments after your traffic stop can make the difference between being convicted of DUI and having the charges reduced or dismissed. Your Orangeburg DUI lawyer will do their best to get you a favorable plea, but there’s never any guarantee. Here, we’ll discuss the mistakes you can make during your DUI traffic stop.
The Police Are Going to Look for Signs of Impairment
Police officers in South Carolina are trained on what signs to look for in a DUI stop. If they recognize some of these signs of impairment, they’re going to assume that you’re driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Some of the obvious (and not so obvious signs of impairment) include the following:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Smell of alcohol or marijuana
- Open containers or drug paraphernalia in plain sight
- Excessive nervousness
- Confusion when the officers ask you questions
- Blaring music during the late hours
- Windows rolled down when it’s frigid outside
If you exhibit any or all of these signs, the officers will arrest you for DUI. Your Orangeburg DUI lawyer will have to find a way to challenge the cop’s findings. They will also have to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case. If they’re able to do this, then they ay be able to negotiate a reduced charge of reckless driving.
The Officers Will Also Ask You to Do a Breathalyzer Test and Field Sobriety Test
If the police suspect that you are indeed impaired, they are going to ask you to take a breathalyzer test. This test measures your blood alcohol concentration. If you blow over the legal limit of 0.08, you will be arrested for DUI. This is referred to as a DUI per se. If you pass the breathalyzer test but the cops still think you’re impaired, they will ask you to perform a field sobriety test.
The field sobriety test, or FST, involves several tasks that you are required to perform. The FST is almost always recorded so your Orangeburg DUI lawyer can review your performance if need be. If they feel that you performed much better on the test than the prosecutor claims, they will use this to their advantage.
You Do Have the Right to Refuse Both Tests
Technically, you have the right to refuse both the breathalyzer and the FST. This is within your constitutional right against self-incrimination. However, just because you’re allowed to refuse these tests, that doesn’t mean you won’t be penalized for it. If you refuse the breathalyzer test, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for a period of one year. While you may have the chance to appeal this decision, the odds aren’t in your favor. It will be difficult for your criminal defense lawyer in Orangeburg to explain the fact that you refused to take this simple test. Since South Carolina is an implied-consent state, you waived your right to refuse this test when you chose to drive on the roads in South Carolina.
Remember – The Police Have a Small Amount of Discretion
It’s important to remember that police officers are people like you and me. When they pull you over for suspicion of DUI, they’re just doing their jobs. It’s hard to tell you not to take this personally. However, if you are rude to the officers, they aren’t going to be your biggest fans. This means that, when they have a chance to use their discretion, it won’t be to your advantage.
For example, imagine that you take the breathalyzer, and you blow a 0.08. This is the legal limit for DUI in South Carolina (and every other state.) If you otherwise seem to be okay, the officers may have the discretion to cite you for reckless driving. They may let you call someone to come drive you home. Sometimes, the officers are even willing to drive you home and let you come back to get your vehicle the next day. However, if you’re rude and disrespectful, you can’t expect them to do you any favors. This means your Orangeburg DUI lawyer will have to work even harder to get the charges against you dismissed or reduced to reckless driving.
Your Orangeburg DUI Lawyer Can’t Help You if You’re Disrespectful to the Officers
If you are rude and disrespectful to the arresting officers, your criminal defense lawyer in Orangeburg will have to find some other way to get the charged reduced. They aren’t going to have the sympathy of the officers, the judge, or the prosecutor. The officer’s notes are going to show how you behaved. You don’t want to make your lawyer’s job any harder than it has to be.
The Biggest Mistake is Waiting Too Long to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Orangeburg
No matter what you did during your DUI traffic stop, your Orangeburg DUI lawyer will do their best to clean things up. Their goal is to get the DUI charges against you dismissed or, at the very least, reduced. For example, if your BAC was on the cusp of the legal limit of 0.08, your criminal defense lawyer in Orangeburg may be able to get the charges reduced to reckless driving. As you can imagine, the penalties for reckless driving are a lot less serious than they are for DUI.
We suggest that you go into any potential traffic stop with the advice given here in mind. As frustrated and angry as you may be to get pulled over, you don’t want to bite your nose off to spite your face. If you’re respectful and honest with the cops, they may be willing to use their discretion in your favor. However, if you’re rude or combative, there’s no way this will happen. The cops will arrest you and make sure you’re charged with DUI and any other relevant charges. For example, if you spit at the officer or throw your driver’s license at them, you can be charged with assault against a police officer. That’s the last thing you need at a time like this.
We recommend that you contact one of our Orangeburg DUI lawyers as soon as possible after your arrest. We’ll first help arrange for your release. We will then reach out to the prosecutor’s office and see if they’re willing to entertain a plea deal. With so much at stake, you don’t want to try to handle this on your own. It’s better to have a skilled legal professional by your side.