Everything You Need To Know About South Carolina Sobriety Checkpoints

Arrested at a SC DUI Checkpoint?

How aggressive is DUI enforcement in South Carolina? Police officers across the state have been setting up DUI checkpoint traps for years. If you've been arrested on suspicion of DUI in the Charleston area, you could benefit greatly from the representation and legal guidance of an experienced and tireless DUI defense attorney who knows how to protect your rights, driving privileges and record.

Don't assume you're guilty. People under the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit fail breath tests and field sobriety tests regularly. Get a lawyer who can defend your case and your future.

What Is A DUI Checkpoint

Depending on who you ask, you can expect one of the following responses:

  • "It's an unconstitutional, 'big brother' action by law enforcement."
  • "It's a pain in the rear."
  • "It's a major bummer."
  • "It's a necessary tool for preventing drunk driving deaths."

Let's get to the bottom of it.

First of all, despite our reservations about them, they are not unconstitutional. In fact, police must obtain approval from a judge prior to setting up a South Carolina DUI checkpoint. During the checkpoint, they must also take care to properly administer breath tests and field sobriety tests. Learn more about South Carolina DUI myths.

When you're trying to get from point A to point B quickly, stopping in a line of cars, making small talk with an officer and following a beam of light with your eyes surely is a pain in the rear.

Getting asked to step out of your car and having your freedom hinge on your ability to stand on one foot or say the alphabet backwards is definitely a major bummer.

At their core SC DUI checkpoints are a road block set up by the police that provides with with a chance to engage with every driver before allowing their vehicle through the sobriety checkpoint. In theory, this is an efficient way to get drunk drivers off the road and ensure public safety. In practice, casting such a wide net nearly guarantees that innocent drivers will have their rights violated and reputations damaged by invalid procedures and unreliable testing.

What To Do At A DUI Checkpoint In South Carolina

Be respectful. As the old saying goes you win more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Hopefully you'll answer a couple simple questions (like "Where are you coming from tonight?") and be on your way. However, if the situation starts veering from questions to physical and mental tests, you have some decisions to make.

If you encounter difficulty at a checkpoint, you always reserve the option to get an experienced DUI lawyer involved to protect your rights. In fact, it's a good idea to keep an attorney's contact information in your phone contacts for just such an occasion.

What Rights Do South Carolina Drivers Have At DUI Checkpoints?

Law enforcement deciding to throw up a sobriety checkpoint doesn't take away any of your constitutional rights. You are still in control of what tests you subject yourself to and maintain the right to remain silent.

The decision is yours as to whether you want to play along with the flashlight game ("follow this beam with your eyes"). When it comes to field sobriety tests and breath tests, you should be aware that there are consequences to refusing a test due to South Carolina's implied consent law. These consequences include not having a record of your BAC and having your driver's license automatically suspended.

However, not having a record of your BAC may play to your advantage and anything short of a DUI arrest can be considered a victory. Furthermore, breath tests and field sobriety tests have been shown to be inaccurate. Why subject to yourself to an unreliable test that's designed to saddle you with a DUI?

Local DUI Checkpoints Via Text And Email

A number of traffic and social networking apps provide drivers with updates about the location of sobriety checkpoints. You may find these to be helpful but should not rely on them. Depending on where you are and where you need to go, there may be no way to avoid them. It's best to be prepared and understand your rights.

Challenging The Prosecution — Standing Up For Your Rights

At Drennan Law Firm, we fight for our clients. We pick apart the case the prosecution has built against our client, and we minimize the consequences and charges. If we cannot get the charges against you dismissed, we will do everything in our power to reduce the charges.

We don't treat you like a number. Our team commits to passionate advocacy for your best possible outcome and vigorous protection of your rights through the legal process and into the future.

Did Police Officers Follow Proper Procedure At The Roadblock or DUI Checkpoint?

Each time police set up a roadblock, they need to obtain legal permission from a judge. The evidence against you could be thrown out if they didn't.

Police officers also need to properly administer breath tests and field sobriety tests.

Breath test machines are unreliable. The portable roadside testing device (Breathalyzer) is only meant to give police officers an idea of your BAC. With strong representation, this evidence won't stand up in court.

The breath test administered at the police station is done using a machine called the DataMaster DMT. Our attorneys are experienced at evaluating the accuracy of this machine, and often challenge its results.

Even if your BAC test result was high, you may still have a defense and legal options. In many cases, people with gastric reflux, dental work, certain medications, diabetes, asthma and certain diets can get skewed results. Environmental factors and certain molecules in the air or in your lungs at the time of the test can skew your results.

Field sobriety tests are known to be unreliable. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which introduced the tests several years ago, now officially states that field sobriety test results are not sufficient evidence of impaired driving.

Sober people fail the walk-and-turn, one-leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus and alphabet recitation tests frequently. Police officers are supposed to videotape the field sobriety tests for court review and follow other strict protocols.

We will examine all aspects of your case and determine what factors may have influenced your test results. We know how to challenge the case against you, protect your license and shield your freedoms.

Get Drennan Law Firm For Tough Defense

Pulled over by the police for driving under the influence? Protect your legal rights. The law is on your side. Please call our attorneys at 843-352-4149 or email us to schedule a free initial consultation with a lawyer whom you can rely on.