Charleston DUI Lawyers
If you are facing a DUI charge in the Charleston, SC area, then you understandably want the most capable Chareston DUI lawyer you can find. After all, there are serious penalties associated with a conviction, including fines, license suspension, ignition interlocks and even jail time. People can also lose their jobs and face lasting professional consequences.
With these serious possibilities on the horizon, you should do everything you can to fight your DUI charge, starting as early as possible. At the Drennan Law Firm, one of our defense attorneys has experience as a prosecutor, so we know the importance of this decision. Fortunately, with literally hundreds of cases under our belts in Charleston, our DUI lawyers have some relevant advice.
How To Choose A Charleston DUI Lawyer
People often say that they want the “best” lawyer, but the truth is that there is no single attorney who is the best for everyone. A Charleston DUI lawyer who works well with one person may be a poor choice for another person. Your goal should be to find someone with the right combination of experience, communication and professional success that fits well with your situation.
When researching how to choose a Charleston DUI lawyer, consider these things:
- Personal Recommendations
If someone you know and trust has used an attorney before, now is a good time to ask them about their experience. Were they satisfied with the outcome? Is there anything they would do differently? Did the lawyer communicate in a way they found effective?
- Online Reviews
Reading reviews online is a good way to shop for anything, and attorneys are no exception. What are people saying? Do certain strengths stand out? Do different people have a similar complaint? How many reviews are there? More is usually indicative of a busy, established practice.
You should also check the attorney’s website for client testimonials, which can give you a feel for what it would be like to work with this particular attorney. Better yet, ask the law firm if you can speak with some of their former clients. The more information you can get about in-person dealings with a particular attorney, the better.
- In-Person Consultation
Many attorneys offer free consultations to discuss your situation. Schedule one with the attorney you’re researching, and do not be afraid to ask hard questions. How many cases like yours have they handled? How did those cases resolve? Have they ever had any disciplinary action taken against them by the state bar association? If you are ever opposed to the legal direction they suggest, will they prioritize your wishes over their own? Are they forthcoming about their fees?
- Communication Style
You will be spending considerable time with your attorney, which means it is important that your communication styles work well together. While you are speaking to them in person, pay attention to how they communicate. Are they attentive listeners, or do they interrupt? Do they respect and consider your opinions? Do you feel as though your case will be in good hands?
Selecting the right person for DUI legal defense in Charleston, South Carolina, requires a combination of data and intuition. Do as much research as you can, gather all the information you can, but also trust your instincts once you speak with a potential lawyer in person.
Legal Process For DUI Defense In Charleston, SC
Many people who are arrested for DUI have never gotten into trouble with the law before, so they have no idea what to expect. Here are the different steps you will go through as we prepare your DUI legal defense in Charleston, South Carolina:
- Implied Consent Hearing
This is the first major date you need to be aware of. Being arrested for DUI will automatically result in a suspended driver’s license unless you request one of these hearings within 30 days of the suspension. If you do not request one, you lose the ability to contest the suspension itself.
This is not a criminal proceeding — it takes place at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Charleston. During the implied consent hearing, an administrator will preside and determine whether or not to reinstate your license. The arresting officer will present evidence against you and attempt to justify their decision.
- The Trial
There are two kinds of trials that happen in DUI cases: bench trials and jury trials. If you decide to have a bench trial, a judge will be the only presiding official and will make an independent decision on your guilt. This is typically a less attractive option, unless we can strike a beneficial plea bargain with the prosecuting attorney that involves reduced charges and other favorable elements.
If you request a jury trial — which we recommend, and which everyone has the right to do — the court will set a new date and your case will likely be scheduled at the Charleston Municipal Court, depending on where the DUI stop occurred.
During the entire legal process for DUI defense in South Carolina, we will always keep you informed of what is happening and what the next step is. You will never be in the dark. Our job is to defend you as thoroughly as possible, and part of that defense means that we are aware of all the steps involved.
Our Charleston DUI Lawyers Win Tough Cases
As soon as you become our client, we will begin examining the evidence surrounding your case. One of our attorneys has extensive experience as a prosecutor and at the police department, so we know how they will build a case against you. We also know the common errors that many prosecutors make and the ways that police departments mishandle evidence and shortcut protocol. We will:
- Do a forensic examination of the evidence against you
- Analyze the results and accuracy of the DataMaster DMT breath test
- Research the history of the arresting officer
- Review video from the squad car, if available
- Review field sobriety test results, if used
- Check the police report
- Gather information from witnesses
- Collect other evidence in your favor
Many DUI cases resolve before a trial ever takes place. Before the jury trial, we will negotiate with the prosecution on your behalf and attempt to reduce the charges or even have the case dismissed.
If the case proceeds to trial, we will enter motions on your behalf to exclude certain evidence, strike prejudiced jurors, cross-examine witnesses and vigorously represent your interests. You may be required to take the stand, in which case we will thoroughly prepare you for testimony. Our Charleston DUI lawyers have handled literally hundreds of cases, so nothing that happens will be a surprise. Preparation and advocacy is the name of what we do.
South Carolina DUI Laws And Penalties
In South Carolina, it is not illegal to drink and drive — it is illegal to have a blood alcohol content above the legal limit while driving. The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent in most cases, though it is .02 percent for drivers under the age of 21 and .04 percent for commercial drivers. You do not have to show signs of erratic or reckless driving to be convicted for DUI — simply failing the chemical test is enough.
The exact penalties you will face depend on your exact BAC and whether you have had prior DUI convictions. The higher your BAC and longer your prior record, the more severe your penalties will be. If you were involved in a car accident while intoxicated, the penalties will be more severe still. These can include:
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation
- Community service, which can sometimes substitute for incarceration
- Ignition interlock devices, which will not allow you to start your motor vehicle unless you pass a built-in breathalyzer test
- Mandatory substance abuse programs
- Fines, ranging from $400 to $10,000
- Jail time, from 48 hours for a first offense to five years or more for a serial offender
Understanding South Carolina DUI laws and penalties is important, as both are quite serious.
Start Your DUI Defense Today
DUI cases tend to proceed quickly through the court system, so it is in your best interest to secure an attorney as soon as possible. With our previous experience as prosecutors and at the police department, the Drennan Law Firm has the background you need to successfully defend yourself.
Handling DUI/DWI Charges Throughout South Carolina
DUI enforcement is extensive and aggressive in South Carolina. Your Charleston DUI attorney must be aggressive as well. Ideally, your lawyer should have years of experience, with a strong track record of successful case outcomes.
Have you been caught up in South Carolina’s “Sober or Slammer” anti-DUI/DWI campaign? Were you arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol because you were snagged in a so-called sobriety checkpoint trap? Did police consider you guilty before investigating the facts simply because you had alcohol on your breath? Is “buzzed driving” really drunk driving, as the publicity campaign states?
Protect Your Driving Privileges and Stay Out of Jail
Get your driver’s license back now! Drennan Law Firm wins tough DUI cases, including tough felony DUI arrests. Drennan Law Firm is prepared to put up a fair and effective fight on your behalf. We take on tough DUI cases and win. From our law offices in Charleston and Mount Pleasant, we aggressively represent people charged with DUI. We invite you to contact us to schedule a free consultation.
A Drunk Driving Arrest Does Not Equate to a Guilty Verdict!
One of the first topics of discussion during your free consultation is a review of this simple truth as it relates to your drunk driving arrest:
Being stopped or arrested or charged with driving under the influence of alcohol does not mean you have been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not against the law to drink and then drive. Rather, it is against the law to drive while appreciably impaired: mentally, physically and materially. A prosecutor has the burden of proof as to your impairment. An effective DUI defense attorney takes up the challenge of protecting your rights through all phases of a drunk driving case.
You may believe that you “failed” a sobriety test because a police officer insinuated as much before arresting you. In fact, ordinary people routinely make common mistakes while performing ordinary actions during sobriety tests. A poor outcome during a sobriety test is not the equivalent of a guilty DUI verdict in a court of law.
Contact a Charleston Drunk Driving Defense Attorney
Do not let a police officer imply that your case is a sealed, slam-dunk conviction before you have had your day in court. A strong defense in a DWI/DUI case begins with a carefully prepared appearance in an administrative hearing before the Department of Public Safety. Stop worrying and get your defense underway today. Our experienced Charleston DUI lawyers welcome the opportunity to evaluate your case, with no further obligation unless you choose to proceed.