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It is unlawful for any driver to operate their vehicle while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Despite the harsh penalties assigned for such offenses, driving under the influence (DUI) continues to be one of the most commonly prosecuted crimes. Police can conduct a lawful arrest for DUI after establishing probable cause, conducting a traffic stop, and confirming that the driver is intoxicated. After a lawful arrest, the driver must submit to chemical testing for intoxication under South Carolina’s implied consent law.
If you were recently arrested for DUI in Florence, you need to know your rights in this situation and the value of having legal counsel you can trust as you approach the difficult proceedings ahead of you. Do not assume that your situation is hopeless if your chemical test showed that you were intoxicated, and do not assume that you can manage your defense on your own or with a court-appointed attorney if you did not commit the crime. A private Florence DUI defense attorney is the ideal asset to have on your side in this situation.
The attorneys at Axelrod & Associates, P.A., have years of professional experience defending clients from all types of criminal charges, including DUI. While no defense attorney can ever promise any client a specific outcome to their case, when you choose our firm to represent you, we can promise that you will have a dedicated legal advocate readily available to answer questions and address concerns as they arise throughout your case proceedings. You need to exercise your right to legal counsel as soon as possible after an arrest for DUI, and the sooner you reach out to our team, the more time we have to assist you with your case.
Every driver provides their implied consent to chemical testing for DUI after a lawful arrest for suspected DUI. This means that if a police officer pulls over a suspected intoxicated driver, the driver is legally required to submit to chemical testing for DUI. This is usually done with a breathalyzer exam that measures the driver’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). If the driver is suspected of being under the influence of drugs, the police officer may take a blood sample if they secure a warrant to do so. Refusal to submit to the chemical test will result in an automatic administrative suspension of your driver’s license for six months, even if you were not intoxicated.
The legal BAC limit across the United States is .08%. If a driver’s BAC is above this level, they will be arrested for DUI. It is important to remember that it is possible for you to be arrested for suspected DUI even without a chemical test, but refusal to take such a test will only work against you. It is important that you comply with arresting officers’ instructions once they inform you that you are being arrested and wait for the opportunity to call a Florence DUI defense attorney to assist you.
If you are arrested for DUI or any other criminal offense, two very important constitutional rights come into play at this time. First, you have the right to remain silent once you are arrested. This means you are not required to act as a witness against yourself or answer any questions from the police. Do not be combative or hostile; simply state that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent until you can meet with a defense attorney. Second, you have the right to legal counsel, and a private Florence criminal defense attorney is the optimal choice for the representation you need in this difficult situation.
If the arresting officers violated your civil or constitutional rights during your arrest or booking, this could potentially form grounds to have your case dismissed. The sooner you consult with a Florence DUI defense attorney, the sooner they can review the details of your arrest to ensure that due process has been followed. Your defense team can also be crucial for identifying any prosecutorial misconduct that may occur throughout your criminal court proceedings.
In South Carolina, the penalties for DUI conviction increase when a defendant has a record of past DUI convictions and/or has injured or killed someone with their intoxicated driving. A first-time basic DUI conviction that did not result in injury, death, or serious property damage and no other charges against the defendant can lead to a fine of up to $400, incarceration in county jail for 48 hours to 30 days, and a six-month driver’s license suspension. A second DUI conviction will lead to significantly increased penalties. The defendant could face $2,100 to $5,100 in fines, five days to one year in county jail, and a one-year driver’s license suspension. A third DUI conviction within five years of the second offense will lead to a two-year driver’s license suspension, fines of $3,800 to $6,300, and 60 days to three years in county jail.
After a fourth DUI conviction, the defendant’s penalties will also increase, but they will face permanent revocation of their driver’s license and up to five years in prison. Standard DUI offenses are typically prosecuted as misdemeanors, but the defendant can face felony prosecution if they are facing their third DUI conviction and/or injured or killed someone with their actions.
Your Florence DUI defense attorney can help determine whether you have any possible defenses at your disposal. For example, you could challenge whether the police administered your chemical test appropriately and/or whether the testing lab handled the sample correctly. It is also possible to challenge your charges on the basis of procedural misconduct, due process violations, or any violations of your civil or constitutional rights. The sooner you connect with a Florence DUI defense attorney, the sooner they can help determine your most viable options for defense in your case.
A: You have the right to legal representation when you are charged with any criminal offense, and it is vital that you take full advantage of this right. Even if you think you can prove your innocence on your own or you know that you were wrongfully arrested, the actual process of disproving the case against you is likely to be far more challenging than you may expect at first. Your defense attorney can guide you through your proceedings and potentially help you avoid penalties for conviction that you would not know how to avoid on your own.
A: South Carolina’s criminal code applies a sliding scale of penalties to DUI convictions in the state. This means that for each DUI conviction, a defendant has within a few years, penalties automatically increase. When it comes to jail time, a judge is typically willing to seek alternative penalties in lieu of incarceration as long as the defendant did not hurt or kill anyone with their impaired driving. However, the standard incarceration penalty for a first-time DUI misdemeanor is 48 hours to 30 days in county jail. DUI felonies will lead to a longer sentence in state prison.
A: A defendant found guilty of DUI in Florence or elsewhere in the state faces a range of financial penalties, including fines, court fees, and restitution to any victims harmed by their actions. Additionally, the defendant will also likely see their auto insurance premium increase, which can amount to thousands of dollars over the next several years.
A: Just like in any other criminal case, the prosecutor seeking conviction in a DUI case in Florence must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s possible to avoid conviction by proving that you were wrongfully arrested, were not intoxicated when you were arrested, or by citing any procedural misconduct from the police or prosecutors handling your case. Your Florence DUI defense attorney can help determine the most viable defenses available to you.
A: Most criminal defense attorneys bill their clients by the hour, and they will track their time spent working on a case in 10- or 15-minute increments. The more time an attorney must spend working on a case, the more it costs the client. However, it is always worth investing in experienced private criminal defense counsel to have the greatest chance of success in avoiding conviction or, at the very least, minimizing your penalties. Always verify a prospective attorney’s billing policy before agreeing to their representation.
The team at Axelrod & Associates, P.A., has years of professional experience defending clients in Florence and surrounding communities from all types of criminal charges, including DUI. We know the tactics that local prosecutors use to secure convictions in these cases and how to identify the evidence you need to reach the optimal outcome of your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Florence DUI defense attorney to learn how our firm can assist you with this challenging case.
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