South Carolina DUI Court Process

The court process can be lengthy, but taking swift action in your DUI case is recommended. Basically, there are two key parts to the DUI court process:

  1. Implied consent hearing (Department of Motor Vehicles hearing) in Charleston, in which an administrative hearing officer will decide whether your driver's license should be suspended
  2. A bench trial (judge only) or a jury trial

What Happens at an Implied Consent Hearing?

You must request an implied consent hearing within 30 days of your license suspension. If you don't make the request in time, you lose the right to challenge your driver's license suspension. The implied consent hearing is separate from criminal hearings and is presided over by an administrative hearing officer, who will decide if your license should be reinstated.

At the hearing, the arresting officer must show that he or she made a lawful arrest and had probable cause to pull your vehicle over and administer drunk driving tests. Improper testing or lack of probable cause could allow your license to be reinstated. The burden of proof showing evidence of DUI is on the police officer.

The Bench Trial

Your bench trial in front of a judge will be scheduled after your arrest. In a bench trial, the judge will decide your case if you don't plead guilty. This is often a less attractive option than going to a jury trial, unless a best-case scenario plea bargain can be negotiated with the prosecuting attorney.

If you decide to request a jury trial, which is your right, a new court date will be set.

Preparing Your Case For a DUI Trial

In some cases, the court process can be accelerated. If you are in the military, if you drive a commercial truck or if your employer will take some other disciplinary action due to a pending DUI case, our law firm can work to have your case accelerated.

In all cases that we handle, we forensically examine breath test results. Attorney John L. Drennan is a certified expert on the DataMaster DMT breath test machine, which is used in police departments across South Carolina as the only admissible breath test evidence in court. Attorney Drennan has testified in several instances on the inaccuracies of the DataMaster DMT. Under his leadership, our team is well-versed in fighting DUI cases and contesting high breath test results.

Additionally, we will analyze the video recording from the police officer's squad car. Attorney Drennan also had a hand in influencing the writing of the law regarding police officer requirements for in-car video during DUI traffic stops.

We will analyze breath test and other field sobriety test results. We will look at the officer's claimed probable cause to pull over your vehicle. We will examine blood and urine test results. We will look at the police officer's record, the police report from your arrest and witness testimony.

Our firm is thorough, and we will be well-prepared to challenge the case against you at trial.

The Jury Trial

First, we will work to negotiate a reasonable resolution with the prosecuting lawyer in your best interests. If that process fails, we will go to trial in front of a judge and six jurors, whom we have helped select. Previously, we will have made motions to exclude certain evidence and reduce or dismiss the charges against you.

In some cases, the prosecutor will offer a deal if one of our motions is successful. If not, each attorney will make opening statements to the jury, witnesses will be examined, and you may testify if we decide it is in your best interest to do so.

Following cross-examinations, each attorney will offer a closing argument to the jury, and the jury will then deliberate to settle on a verdict.

Drennan Law Firm Is the Place to Get the Defense You Need

Please call us at 843-352-4149 or email us to schedule a free initial consultation with our attorneys. We have the answers to all of your DUI questions, and we will help you understand your full legal options.