Rules and laws governing DUI arrests and convictions in South Carolina are complex and designed to provide severe consequences for those convicted. Beating a DUI charge may be challenging, but it is possible. Nationwide statistics report a wide variance in DUI dismissal rates and unsuccessful conviction rates. The reasons also vary, but often include a violation of the driver's rights.

How can a DUI charge be challenged and won?

A DUI arrest is a serious thing, especially in the case of multiple offenses. In South Carolina, felony DUI charges are assessed starting with a third DUI, increasing the severity of any consequences. Some DUI cases are able to be successfully challenged if the arresting officers did not follow proper procedure. There are many areas in which this could happen, including:

  • Not having proper cause for stopping a driver to begin with
  • Not reading a driver his or her legal rights at the time of arrest
  • Not conducting a field sobriety test properly
  • Not appearing in court for a designated hearing

Police officers have very clear guidelines that must be followed when stopping a driver and pursuing a potential DUI arrest. If any one step is not appropriately conducted, an arrested driver may have good cause for a dismissal of his or her case.

A word about DUI testing

Many people hear that they must agree to any field sobriety test or blood alcohol test or they will face an automatic DUI arrest. That is only partially true. The reality is that a driver can opt to refuse tests, but should know that, under South Carolina law, he or she will receive an automatic driver's license suspension for at least 90 days. Even if a driver agrees to DUI testing, but is belligerent or displays any opposition, that behavior can also be used in court against the defendant.

Written notice prior to DUI testing

Before a law enforcement officer can administer a DUI test, the driver must be provided written notice of his or her rights. These include the right to refuse testing, understanding that doing so leads to automatic license suspension and use of such refusal in court as well as an automatic 30-day suspension of driving privileges if the blood alcohol content (BAC) is over .15 percent.

Drivers also have the right to pay for additional independent blood alcohol testing as well as the right to request an administrative hearing within 30 days of any notice of suspension. If no hearing is requested, the driver is required to enroll in a substance abuse program.

All of these rights should be clearly communicated to the driver. If you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI, but believe your rights have been violated, it is important that you work with a DUI defense attorney. Obtaining proper legal help is the best way to ensure fair representation and an opportunity to reduce your penalties.