According to the Traffic Safety Facts the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published in October this year, out of the 1,015 traffic fatalities registered in South Carolina in 2016, 33%, respectively 331, had alcohol-impaired driving as the main cause. The number of fatalities associated with DUI increased by 7.8%, respectively 24 casualties from 2015. While most South Carolina residents focus on shopping and partying around Christmas and the New Year, the SC Highway Patrol Troop Two officers expect the number of DUI arrests to increase considerably, and they are planning several DUI checkpoints in Greenwood and the other counties in their jurisdiction, including Abbeville, Laurens, McCormick, Saluda, Newberry, and Edgefield.
Drivers who have made a habit out of drinking and driving should therefore think again or keep the contact information of a reputable Greenwood DUI attorney at hand. In addition to license suspension or revocation that could cost them their job, those who drink and drive in Greenwood also risk significant financial losses and spending time in jail. The last thing a driver should want on New Year’s Eve is to appear on the lists of Greenwood DUI arrests and welcome 2018 behind bars.
And the financial implications of being caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are not negligible either. While South Carolina DUI fines alone start from $400 for first offense with a BAC of up to 0.16, they can go up to $6,300 for repeat offenses. This adds to the numerous and significant costs and losses a court trial and having to install an Ignition Interlock Device usually bring about.
Unfortunately for those who drive and drink, lack of probable cause is no longer a sound defense strategy around the holidays. Anyone calling the patrol officers and announcing they saw an impaired driver getting behind the wheel could lead to you being pulled over and there is no need for probable cause in Greenwood DUI checkpoints.
The Legality of Greenwood, SC DUI Checkpoints
Sobriety checkpoints, also known as roadblocks or mobile checkpoints, are legal in Greenwood and throughout South Carolina. They are traffic stops for the organization of which the law enforcement officers do not need any justifications or suspicions.
According to the Constitution, law enforcement officers need probable cause to stop drivers in traffic. However, the Supreme Court made sobriety checkpoints an exception to this rule. The National Highway Safety Administration issued clear guidelines regarding their setup. Perhaps the most important guideline is that the information regarding the checkpoints’ timing and location should be made public in advance.
As soon as they observe this rule and a few others, Greenwood, South Carolina patrols can choose random locations and stop cars passing through that location in an attempt to identify drivers who break the law and sanction them accordingly.
During DUI checkpoints, South Carolina Highway Patrol officers briefly detain and interview drivers, submitting those who raise suspicions to sobriety tests. Their purpose is not to ruin the fun of the holidays, as some may think, but to prevent inebriated drivers from causing accidents and, implicitly, keeping the roads safe.
However, it is important to note that not all sobriety tests are accurate and DUI charges do not necessarily turn into convictions. Especially on New Year’s Eve, when the police officers test hundreds of drivers while wishing they could be celebrating with their loved ones, erroneous results and procedure errors are common, making it easy for drivers to avoid arrests.
Avoiding Greenwood DUI Arrests on New Year’s Eve
The simplest and most effective way to avoid arrests around the holidays is to avoid drinking and driving. Paying for a taxi, Uber, or Lyft ride is much cheaper than paying the fine and the other expenses that come with a DUI conviction.
Those who cannot avoid driving after drinking, or whose sobriety tests return unjustified positive results should immediately enlist the services of an experienced Greenwood DUI attorney. Even when the checkpoint is legal and the test results are positive, attorneys have numerous defense strategies they can use to reduce or eliminate your charges.
They can justify the results of the sobriety test, question the way the police officers administered the test, prove that the breathalyzer malfunctioned or the medical personnel performing the blood test did not follow procedures, and more.
Even when a driver’s intoxication level is obvious and the police did everything by the book, a Greenwood, South Carolina DUI attorney may still help one avoid being convicted and minimize the consequences of one’s actions. However, in order for this to happen, the driver should request the attorney’s help immediately, because the more they wait, the higher the chances for that person to say or do something against their own interests.
Consult with a Greenwood DUI Attorney Today
Did the police stop you at a Greenwood DUI checkpoint and charge you? Do not risk spending New Year’s Eve in jail! Contact Ayers, Smithdeal & Bettis now to make sure you benefit from experienced DUI defense.