Industry News for Criminal Defense Law in Columbia, South Carolina

DUI Case Process in Lexington County

Facing a DUI charge in Lexington County, South Carolina, can be a daunting experience. From the moment of arrest to the final disposition in court, understanding the steps involved is crucial for anyone navigating this legal challenge. This blog post outlines the DUI case process in Lexington County, providing you with valuable insights and guiding you through each phase of the legal journey. If you’re looking for reliable legal representation, Thompson and Hiller Criminal Defense Firm stands ready to support you with dedicated and comprehensive advocacy.

1. The Traffic Stop and Arrest

The DUI process typically begins with a traffic stop. Law enforcement officers may stop a vehicle if they observe signs of impaired driving or if a traffic violation occurs. During the stop, the officer will assess the driver’s condition, looking for indicators such as the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, or erratic behavior.

If the officer suspects impairment, field sobriety tests will likely be administered. These tests can include a series of physical or cognitive exercises. Should the officer find sufficient evidence of intoxication, a breathalyzer test might be requested to measure blood alcohol content (BAC). Refusing this test can lead to immediate license suspension due to South Carolina’s implied consent laws.

If the BAC is above the legal limit of 0.08% or if there is other compelling evidence of impairment, an arrest for DUI will be made. Following the arrest, the individual will be taken to a local law enforcement station for booking.

2. Bond Hearing and Release

After booking, the next step is the bond hearing. This usually occurs within 24 hours of the arrest. During the hearing, the judge will determine whether the accused can be released on bond and under what conditions. Factors influencing this decision include prior criminal history, the specifics of the current charge, and ties to the community.

3. Administrative License Hearing

One of the immediate consequences of a DUI arrest is the potential suspension of your driving privileges. However, you have the right to challenge this suspension at an administrative license hearing. It’s important to request this hearing promptly, as failing to do so within 30 days of the arrest will result in automatic suspension. This hearing is separate from the criminal proceedings and focuses solely on the circumstances surrounding the license suspension.

4. Pre-Trial Motions and Plea Bargaining

As your case progresses, your defense team may file pre-trial motions, which can include motions to suppress evidence if it was improperly obtained. This phase also often involves plea negotiations. Depending on the strength of the evidence and the specifics of your case, a plea deal may be offered, which could result in reduced charges or penalties.

5. Trial – Lexington County

If no plea agreement is reached, the case will proceed to trial. In South Carolina, you may choose between a bench trial, where a judge makes the ruling, or a jury trial, where a jury of peers decides the outcome. The trial involves opening statements, witness testimony, cross-examinations, and closing arguments.

6. Sentencing – DUI Case Process

If convicted, the sentencing phase will follow. Penalties for a DUI conviction in South Carolina can vary significantly based on factors like previous DUI convictions, the presence of aggravating factors, and the specific circumstances of the case. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment, community service, DUI school, and mandatory alcohol and drug counseling.

Conclusion: Why Choose Thompson and Hiller Criminal Defense Firm?

Navigating a DUI charge in Lexington County demands knowledgeable and assertive legal representation. At Thompson and Hiller Criminal Defense Firm, we understand the complexities of DUI law and provide our clients with robust and personalized defense strategies. Our team is dedicated to protecting your rights and achieving the best possible outcome for your case.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI in Lexington County, don’t face this challenging time alone. Contact Thompson and Hiller Criminal Defense Firm today to ensure you have experienced attorneys guiding you every step of the way. Let us help you move forward with confidence and clarity.