DUI Checkpoints in Charleston, South Carolina

Many have seen or come across a DUI checkpoint. Do you know your rights if you are forced to enter one? Did you know that you can challenge the legality of said checkpoints if you were arrested for DUI? Today we will discuss the requirements for DUI checkpoints in Charleston, South Carolina and what the state must show for the checkpoint and your DUI arrest to be legal.

Are DUI checkpoints legal in the state of South Carolina?

Yes, but they must comply with a very specific procedure to be considered lawful. When police set up a DUI checkpoint, you are seized, albeit briefly, triggering your rights under the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable government search and seizures.

Requirements for a DUI Checkpoint

Police cannot randomly set up a DUI checkpoint whenever or wherever they want. They must have a “stated purpose,” or the stop is a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. In Brown v. Texas, our U.S. Supreme Court held that courts must balance three factors in determining the constitutionality of a checkpoint: The gravity of the public interest served by the seizure; The degree to which the seizure serves the public interests; and the severity of the interference with individual liberty.

Under the first factor, the checkpoint must be designed to insure roadway safety. The second factor requires the state to produce data to support the effectiveness of its roadblock. Failure to produce evidence will render the roadblock unconstitutional. In this case, a DUI lawyer would be necessary to review your DUI arrest from a DUI checkpoint since a lot of this information has to be requested specifically.

Requirements Specific to South Carolina

  1.  Police should use a policy that addresses all aspects of the DUI checkpoints from officer training, equipment used, to media relations.
  2. Gather statistical data validating police action at the location in question.
  3. A specific plan regarding the actual checkpoint site, considering environmental issues, with safety being the priority in the construction of the checkpoint.
  4. The checkpoint should be visible as a police action. This meaning adequate lighting so the checkpoint is illuminated to alert the motorist of it.
  5. Initial contact with motorists should be kept brief and if impairment is suspected the motorists should be directed out of the flow of traffic and into a designated roadside test area.
  6. A supervisor must establish the roadblock and there must be a supervisor at the scene during the checkpoint.
  7. Police cannot stop vehicles randomly, they must stop motorists in a neutral way. Examples being to stop every vehicle, every other vehicle, every third-fourth vehicle, etc.

If you or someone you know has received a DUI, contact Harris & Huge.

DUI Attorneys and Inside Information

Discussing Options for Handling DUI with a Drunk Driving Attorney

People often believe there are only two options when handling a DUI: to take a plea or go to trial. A good DUI attorney will be able to discuss all of the local options as well. For example, many counties have received funding for specialized DUI programs. Entering a DUI diversion program and successfully completing the drug or alcohol counseling can often lead to a reduced sentence or dismissal. If the attorney you are considering hiring is not familiar with local practices, they may not have adequate experience in handling DUI matters or negotiating with the prosecutor.

A drunk driving attorney will know the players involved in a DUI prosecution, from the local officer to the prosecutor to the judge. They can inform you as to whether this officer is qualified to administer field sobriety tests and whether he or she has ever been subject to any relevant disciplinary action in the past.

If the officer is not qualified, these are grounds for case dismissal or reduction. We also have a working relationship with the prosecutors that handle the DUI cases. Depending on local practices and the facts of your case, some prosecutors allow pleas to alternate charges such as “obstruction of roadway” in exchange for a higher fine and stiffer counseling, but the ability to preserve your driver’s license. A DUI attorney will know to ask for alternate plea options to protect your criminal history and driver’s license. The DUI attorney knows which arguments are likely to appeal and carry more weight with the prosecutor than someone representing him or herself.

DUI Attorney’s Importance in DUI Cases

When choosing a DUI Attorney to represent you, consider this: you wouldn’t want your dentist to give you open-heart surgery. The same theory applies when selecting a drunk driving attorney. A good DUI lawyer understands the overlap of principles used by law enforcement as well as trends in DUI law. Don’t compromise your DUI case or your future with someone who is less than qualified to understand your DUI defense. Find out the advantages a DUI lawyer in Charleston, SC can offer you and contact Harris & Huge today.