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How do South Carolina officers fin drunk drivers?


Drivers in South Carolina, whether they have been charged with a DUI or not, may at times wonder how state officials determine whether to pull an individual over for drunk driving. However, even if they are unaware of how these traffic stops are initiated, many drivers have seen others on the side of the road in flashing lights taking part in field sobriety tests. There are specific signs that officers look for and, once they see those signs, specific procedures they must follow.

Officers can look for numerous different factors that may lead them to believe an individual is driving under the influence of alcohol. DUI charges most commonly result from some sort of traffic violation. If the officer does not stop the driver right away, they may follow them to observe whether there are patterns consistent with drunk driving.

If the person is driving erratically, it could be due to drunk driving or just another form of distracted driving. Therefore, upon pulling the driver over, the officer will look for other signs of alcohol consumption such as slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, lethargy, confusion, delayed response time and more.

If the officer suspects that the driver is impaired, based upon the above-stated factors, the driver will likely be asked to partake in field sobriety testing. If the driver refuses the field sobriety testing, the officer must then decide if there is enough evidence to arrest the driver. If the driver is arrested, they will then be taken to the nearest facility with a breathalyzer testing machine. The driver is observed for 20 minutes and then takes the breathalyzer test.

In South Carolina, the legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol is .08. If a driver's blood-alcohol content level is .08 or higher, they may face DUI charges. A BAC level of .15 or higher is considered a high blood alcohol content that will most often result in an automatic driver's license suspension.

No matter what the driver's alleged BAC level according to a Breathalyzer test, it is always helpful to speak with an experienced drunk driving defense attorney. Sometimes these tests are flawed and attorneys experienced in these types of cases will be able to raise the appropriate arguments and defend the alleged drunk driver in an effort to reduce the charges or have them dropped altogether.

Source: Aiken Standard, "'Walk the line': How police determine if you're DUI," Teddy Kulmala, Jan. 6, 2014

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