Sumter DUI Lawyer

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Sumter DUI Lawyer & Defense Attorney

Being arrested for driving under the influence can be extremely distressing. For first-time offenders, there is the risk of your license being suspended, paying fines, or spending a small period in jail. If there are previous DUIs already on record, or new aggravating factors emerge from the most recent event, the penalties can be even worse. A Sumter DUI lawyer can look into the facts of your case and devise a strategy to dismiss or reduce the charges against you.

At Deas Law Firm, we have proudly served the Sumter area for many years, helping citizens with their DUI cases. We understand how stressful these charges can be to face alone. It’s why we provide our clients with personalized attention and aggressive representation to ensure that no one takes advantage of their rights. Whether it’s your first DUI or you are facing another charge, give us a chance to fight for your interests, like we already have for so many others in the community.

What Is the Legal Limit for Blood Alcohol Concentration in South Carolina?

As in most states in the U.S., the legal limit for someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when driving is under 0.08%. Anything higher is grounds to be accused of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

For commercial drivers in the state, this limit is even lower at 0.04%. This stricter standard is a reflection of the responsibility that these drivers have for operating large commercial vehicles. These can cause disproportionately more damage in a car accident when compared to traditional vehicles.

Common Strategies to Defend Against DUI Accusations

It’s important to keep in mind that a DUI accusation is not an automatic guilty verdict. Every DUI case is unique, with its own set of circumstances and evidence. The exact defense strategy used in your case will depend on your attorney’s opinion after they evaluate the case. Some of the most commonly used defense strategies in these situations include:

Challenging the Accuracy of BAC Testing

One of the most common defense strategies is to question how accurate and reliable the results of the BAC test were. A Sumter DUI lawyer can make the case that the device was not properly calibrated or was administered incorrectly. They also may look into the maintenance records to find any oversights that could raise doubts about its ability to perform accurately. This can be an effective approach, especially in cases where the BAC reading is close to the legal limit.

Examining the Traffic Stop Legality

Another approach to defending a DUI charge is to question the legality of the initial traffic stop. A Sumter DUI lawyer might argue that the police officer did not have a valid reason to make the stop in the first place. If the stop is proven to be illegal, any evidence that has been gathered could be inadmissible in court. This would include the actual BAC test results.

Assessing Field Sobriety Test Procedures

Aside from the BAC test, DUI attorneys have also been known to scrutinize the administration and interpretation of other sobriety tests. The argument can be made that these tests were not conducted properly or there were other factors involved that impacted the defendant’s ability to participate. This could include a specific medical condition, a disability, or the road and weather conditions at the time.

Pointing out these facts, if present, could raise significant doubts in a judge and jury that the defendant was impaired at the time of the field sobriety test, making the results less trustworthy.

Investigating Chain of Custody and Evidence Handling

The defense may look into law enforcement’s chain of custody and how they handled specific pieces of evidence, such as blood samples. If there is any suspicion of a lapse in how it was handled or documented, it could provide grounds to challenge its admissibility in court. A Sumter DUI lawyer can specifically search for any discrepancies in how the evidence was collected, stored, and analyzed, as that could question the integrity of the evidence itself.

Arguing That No Driving Occurred

While not as common, a defense attorney may make the case that their client was not actually driving at the time of the alleged offense. The practicality of this strategy will rest on the circumstances of the case. For example, if a police officer’s body camera footage clearly shows the defendant in the driver’s seat, that will immediately remove this defense as a possibility.

However, in situations where the defendant was found in a parked car, and there is no direct evidence that they were operating the vehicle, this approach would have a better chance of holding up in court.

Highlighting an Officer’s Testimony and Conduct

The testimony and conduct of an arresting officer is always a focal point in any DUI case. Law enforcement is generally regarded as being in a trustworthy position of power to deliver a credible account of what happened. However, it’s still possible for there to be inconsistencies in their testimony.

A defense attorney can scrutinize an officer’s observations and statements to find any instances where there may be a contradiction or bias that is unfairly altering their version of events.

Is There a Statute of Limitations for DUIs in South Carolina?

The statute of limitations in South Carolina for driving under the influence is two years. This means that from the exact date when an individual was accused of driving under the influence, the state has a two-year window to start legal proceedings against the defendant. If, under any circumstances, the state fails to meet this timeline, they are no longer allowed to prosecute the case, no matter how compelling the evidence may be.

The main purpose of this limitation is to ensure that fairness is a top quality in South Carolina legal proceedings. As time goes on, evidence that was once acceptable can become less reliable. For example, the memory of an eyewitness to the incident could fade, and essential details become hazy. This could lead to an unjust outcome, which is why the limitations are put in place to encourage timely prosecution.

While the two-year limit is standard in South Carolina, there are certain behaviors that the defendant could engage in that would void the statute. For example, if they were to leave South Carolina for a certain period of time, the clock could be paused until their return. To better understand what options the prosecution may have to trump the statute of limitations, it’s advised to connect with a DUI defense attorney to be prepared for what might come.

How Much Does a DUI Lawyer Cost?

The full cost of a DUI lawyer depends on many different factors. These could include:

  • How complicated the case is
  • How much experience the attorney already has
  • Where their office is located

Generally, the closer they are to a more populated area, the higher their services will be.

To better understand how much your attorney could cost, take the following into consideration:

Hourly Rates vs. Flat Fees

These are two of the most common payment structures for DUI attorneys. Hourly rates can range, but they typically fall within the spectrum of $100 to $500 per hour. Sometimes, that number could be even higher for an attorney who is well-established in the area and is known for winning cases consistently. On the other hand, your Sumter DUI Lawyer could charge a flat fee. This is a single payment for their services, which could range anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 or more.

Case Complexity

The more complicated a case is, the higher the chance that it will take longer to resolve. This is why you might often hear how case complexity impacts the final price of an attorney’s services. For example, a more straightforward DUI case dealing with a first-time offender and clear evidence could be closed extremely fast. This would not require an attorney to spend as much time on the case, so the billable hours would be fewer.

In contrast, when a case involves accidents, injuries, or repeat offenses that will influence the final verdict of the new case, the timeline and effort needed from an attorney to properly defend their client expands far beyond what a first-time offender might experience.

Between gathering evidence legally to be used in court, negotiating with the prosecutor, and representing a client in a trial, all the effort could lead to a sizable bill. However, keep in mind that the final outcome that you desire could significantly outweigh these upfront legal costs. Speak to your Sumter DUI lawyer about this in your initial consultation, and ask them to help you make this calculation.

Geographic Location

It surprises some people to learn that legal fees can vary based on where you live. In larger metropolitan areas, where the cost of living is significantly higher, the legal fees will be aligned with the spike in costs. If your attorney operates in a rural town, where there is less competition to earn new clients and more time on their daily schedule, the costs could be significantly lower.

Beyond an attorney’s traditional fees, there are extra costs that could be incurred throughout the duration of your case. These could include:

  • Court costs, like filing fees
  • Expert witness fees
  • Costs associated with legally obtaining evidence, such as a blood test

If finances are a concern for you, be sure to ask about all this with your attorney early on. There may be the flexibility to arrange a unique payment structure that meets your financial needs, such as a payment plan.

Sumter DUI FAQs

Q: Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in South Carolina?

A: The implied consent law in South Carolina requires drivers to comply with a request to take a BAC test if requested by law enforcement. If someone makes the decision to decline a test after being instructed to, it can lead to automatic penalties. For first-time offenders, this could mean a license suspension for up to six months.

Your refusal also gives the prosecution another piece of evidence in court, which can make a defendant look even more guilty. Even if you have chosen to refuse, the prosecution could still try to prove your guilt with other evidence, such as an officer’s observations or the results of other field sobriety tests.

Q: How Does a DUI Affect My Driving Record in South Carolina?

A: A DUI conviction in South Carolina can remain on your driving record for many years. This can impact your ability to drive for a certain period of time or secure a favorable insurance rate. It could also result in points being added to your license, which leads to higher insurance premiums as a precaution for the history of unsafe driving.

There is also the possibility that a DUI could affect your ability to earn certain jobs, like a commercial truck or school bus driver. This is why it’s imperative to have a DUI defense attorney on your team to negotiate a less severe punishment.

Q: Are There Alternatives to Jail Time for a DUI in South Carolina?

A: Yes, jail time is not an automatic guarantee for anyone facing a DUI accusation. This is especially true for first-time offenders. Some alternatives could include probation, community service, or mandated Alcoholics Anonymous sessions. These options are often awarded to people who demonstrate remorse for what they have done and a willingness to repair the issue through these types of services.

Your DUI attorney in Sumter can assess the circumstances of your case and share what the likelihood is of securing these more favorable punishments as compared to prison.

Q: Can I Challenge a DUI Charge in South Carolina?

A: Absolutely. If you and your attorney have reason to believe that you are being unfairly accused of driving under the influence, you have every right to challenge the prosecution. This will require a solid defense strategy, such as challenging the legality of the traffic stop or the accuracy of the BAC test results.

While there is no guarantee that an attorney can dismiss or reduce the penalties you face, there is a much higher chance of securing the type of outcome you desire than representing yourself in the process.

Contact Deas Law Firm Today

At Deas Law Firm, we work tirelessly for you to make sure you are fairly compensated on your personal injury case. From slip and fall cases or even catastrophic injury cases, Deas Law Firm is ready to fight for you and your rights. Call us today or fill out the online form to discuss your personal injury case.

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