If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in North Charleston, you need to do everything you can to protect yourself. Not only do DUI charges carry serious penalties in South Carolina, but a DUI conviction can also follow you for the rest of your life.

What to Do If You’ve Been Arrested for DUI in North Charleston

With this in mind, there are some steps you should take as soon as possible after your arrest. Here are 10 tips from North Charleston DUI defense lawyer Rad S. Deaton:

1. Make Sure You Know Your Court Date

When you get arrested for DUI in North Charleston, the arresting officer will give you a ticket. While your ticket contains several important pieces of information, one of the most important pieces of information is the date (and time) you need to appear in court.

You will need to go to court as scheduled; and, when you appear before the judge, you will need to know what to say (and what not to say) to protect yourself. If you don’t go to court, you can be charged with failure to appear and face consequences on top of the penalties for your DUI.

2. Write Down Everything You Can Remember About Your Arrest

As soon as possible, you should write down everything you can remember about your arrest. All of the details matter, and you will want to give your defense lawyer as much information as you can. For example, you should record details such as:

  • Did the arresting officer say why he or she stopped you? Do you agree with the justification for your stop?
  • Did the arresting officer explain how to take the breath test and field sobriety tests (FSTs)? Did you understand the officer’s explanations?
  • Did the arresting officer read your Miranda rights? If so, when?
  • How were the road, traffic, and weather conditions during your DUI stop? Did you have trouble seeing or walking steadily because of bright headlights or loose gravel?

3. Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent

From this point forward, you should exercise your right to remain silent. You should not say anything to the police or prosecutors unless advised to do so by your defense lawyer. Anything you say will only be used against you; and, once you provide the government with information voluntarily, you generally can’t take it back.

4. Exercise Your Right to Legal Counsel

In addition to exercising your right to remain silent, you should also exercise your right to legal counsel. Facing a DUI charge in South Carolina is a very serious matter, and you should not try to handle your situation on your own. From determining what defenses you have available to representing you in court (and perhaps in plea negotiations with the prosecutor’s office), there are several ways an experienced DUI defense lawyer will be able to help you.

5. Identify the Specific Charge (or Charges) You Are Facing

Along with your court date, one of the other key pieces of information on your ticket is the specific charge (or list of charges) you are facing. While you may be facing a DUI (or DUAC) charge, you may also be facing a charge for an implied consent violation, a felony DUI, and/or various other offenses. To ensure that you execute an effective defense strategy, you need to make sure you have a clear understanding of all of the allegations against you.

6. Avoid Drinking and Driving (or Driving at All if the Police Took Your License)

While your DUI case is pending in North Charleston, you need to make sure you don’t get arrested for drinking and driving again. This will make it much more difficult to defend yourself, and you will face enhanced penalties for your second DUI.

If the arresting officer took your license (i.e., if you refused the breath test), you need to avoid driving at all. Here, too, getting arrested while awaiting trial for a DUI charge can magnify the consequences involved.

7. Avoid Other Costly Mistakes

Getting arrested again is just one of several costly mistakes you need to avoid when facing a DUI charge in North Charleston. For more information about what not to do while you are awaiting trial, you can read: 10 Mistakes to Avoid After a DUI Arrest in North Charleston, SC.

8. Learn About the Ways to Defend Against a DUI Charge

Regardless of whether you were driving under the influence, you have defenses available. There are several potential defenses to DUI charges in South Carolina, and an experienced defense lawyer will be able to determine which defenses you can assert in your case. There are several potential defenses to “implied consent” violations and other common charges as well—and, here too, determining the best approach to your case requires experienced legal representation.

9. Plead “Not Guilty” if You Go to Court

If your court date arrives before you hire a lawyer, you should plead “not guilty” when you go to court. This will preserve your ability to assert any and all defenses you have available. With that said, we strongly recommend that you speak with a lawyer before your initial appearance—as an experienced DUI defense lawyer will be able to explain exactly what to expect and exactly what to do in the courtroom.

10. Schedule a Free Consultation About Your DUI Case

To hire a lawyer for your DUI case, the first step is to schedule a free initial consultation. This is your opportunity to meet with a lawyer one-on-one, ask questions, and learn about your next steps. If you decide that you want the lawyer to represent you, then you can hire the lawyer to handle your case going forward.

Schedule a Free Consultation with North Charleston DUI Defense Lawyer Rad S. Deaton

North Charleston DUI defense lawyer Rad S. Deaton has more than two decades of experience representing clients in DUI and other criminal cases. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in the North Charleston area, you can call 843-225-5723 or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation.