People who are charged with drunk driving in Columbia, South Carolina, have lots of questions to ask. Read on to get answers to frequently asked questions about drunk driving and DUI arrests in SC, or call Cleary Law at to discuss your case and speak to a drunk driving attorney.
Q: How Can They Charge Me With DUI If They Pulled Me Over For Speeding?
A: If the officer observes you committing a traffic offense like speeding or running a stop sign, the officer may pull you over for that. If he has a “reasonable suspicion” that you are guilty of DUI, he can detain you further. The officer will usually base this on the smell of alcohol, observation of a beer can in the cupholder, or the inability to simple questions. He will also ask you if you’ve had anything to drink and no matter the amount you tell him, that will be used against you. He may ask you to do field sobriety tests. If you “fail” the tests in the officer’s opinion, he will then decide if he has “probable cause” to arrest you for DUI and take you into custody. At that point, he will take you to the police station or local jail to give a breath sample on the Datamaster (aka Breathylzer).
REMEMBER: You can refuse to answer questions about whether you have been drinking, where you have been, where you are going. You only have to provide your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. You do not have to take the field sobriety tests or the breath test or any other test. You do not have to give the State evidence that will be used against you.
Q: What Will Happen On My First Court Date For A South Carolina Criminal Offense And Do I Have To Be There If I Have A Lawyer?
A: This depends on whether you are being charged in South Carolina general sessions or in summary court, which includes magistrate’s court and municipal court. If you are charged in General Sessions, which is reserved for more serious offenses, you need to appear when called even if you have a lawyer. Make sure you talk to your lawyer about what to expect when you get there. Normally, the prosecutor or judge just gives you another date to appear. You will not be asked to say anything at this point and your attorney should do all the talking for you.
Q: If You Do Not Appear, The Court Will Issue A Bench Warrant For Your Arrest.
A: If you are charged in summary court, talk to your lawyer about whether you need to appear. If you are not able to come, talk to your lawyer about whether she should seek a continuance or if she can handle it without you being there. If you cannot reach your lawyer (which is not a good thing), go to the court appearance because a bench warrant will be issued if your lawyer has not requested a continuance.
Q: How Long Does It Take To Get Something Expunged?
A: Once you have applied, it should take no more than 90 days for the charge to be removed from your record. To see what can be expunged, click here.
Q: How Much Marijuana Can I Carry In My Car?
Possession of any amount of marijuana is against the law in South Carolina. If you have less than 28 grams (about an ounce) of marijuana, you will probably be charged with simple possession, which carries up to 30 days in jail. HOWEVER, you could be charged with possession with intent to distribute even if you have less than 28 grams if the police have a reason to believe you are a dealer. This is usually supported by evidence of scales, lots of baggies for selling, or lots of cash. DO NOT CARRY MARIJUANA IN YOUR CAR.
DO NOT PLEAD guilty to simple possession without talking to a lawyer. Even though this is a minor charge, it can have major consequences!!!! Call for a free initial consultation.