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Summerville South Carolina Criminal Defense Blog

Handling a traffic stop as well as possible

No one wants a police traffic stop to end badly. Undoubtedly, you would much rather go on your way every day without an officer pulling you over, but most drivers find themselves stopped by an officer at some point during their driving years for one reason or another. Even if you do not think you exceeded the speed limit, a South Carolina officer may have other reasons for stopping you.

Though you may immediately feel your heart rate increase, try to remain as calm as possible. This can seem difficult, but as long as you know your rights and behave reasonably, your traffic stop should go as smoothly as possible.

Things to know if South Carolina police request field sobriety

Summer is winding down, but since you live in South Carolina, warm weather lasts much longer than it does up north. This means you still have lots of time to participate in outdoor activities and enjoy summer gatherings with friends. Such gatherings are a lot of fun, whether you go to the beach or simply meet at a favorite pub or restaurant for some great food and conversation. Maybe you know a place that has a happy hour. However, if you consume alcohol then drive, you are at risk. 

Not only might the alcohol impair your cognitive ability, if your blood alcohol content level is .08 or higher, you run the risk of facing DUI charges if a police officer pulls you over and determines there is cause for your arrest. One of the ways police make such determinations is to request that you take a field sobriety test. Do you have to comply? Do you know what is expected of you if you do? What will happen if you refuse to take the test?

You have to speak up for your right to remain silent

Facing accusations of a violent crime can be frightening, confusing and stressful. Regardless of what happened, it is human nature to want to explain the events. However, it is usually in your best interest to remain silent.

You do not have to answer questions regarding the incident that resulted in the accusations against you. Like nearly everyone else here in South Carolina, you have most likely watched television shows and movies where a person is told that he or she has the right to remain silent, so you decide that is what you will do.

Do you have to consent to a vehicle search?

Though traffic stops are relatively common occurrences throughout South Carolina and across the country, it is rarely a comfortable experience to be stopped by police. Even if you do not believe you did anything wrong, you may worry that an officer will get the wrong idea or suspect something illegal has occurred. If you feel nervous during the stop, you may think the officer will think you are hiding something.

These concerns are valid, and officers do take physical cues into consideration when conducting a traffic stop. If you seem antsy or nervous, an officer may think you have something to hide. If your eyes are red or you seem unkempt, the officer may suspect you of drinking and driving or using drugs. As a result, the officer may want to search your vehicle.

How are the penalties for drug charges determined?

If you or a loved one faces serious drug charges, the first thing you want to know is often what penalties you could face. There is a wide range of penalties for drug charges, which can make the situation seem even more overwhelming.

To determine the specific penalties, it is often helpful to understand the different drug schedules.

The police have a warrant. What can you do?

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you from being subject to unreasonable police searches. In most cases, this requires the police to obtain a search warrant.

And what if they have a search warrant? Simply because they have a warrant does not mean that you do not have options. It is critical to understand what steps you can take to protect your rights.

Are breath test results always reliable?

Anyone an officer has pulled over for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol in South Carolina knows just how anxiety-inducing the thought of sobriety testing is. Most people participate in testing when asked because they feel that they have to. The truth is, you can refuse if you think you should. However, consequences may follow.

Consequences aside, the one reason you may want to consider refusing a breath test is that there is question regarding its accuracy. While there are those who tout breath tests as very reliable, many experts agree that is not actually the case.

What to expect if your child is arrested

You never thought your child would be in this position, but here he or she is. Police arrested him or her, and now you have a million questions about what comes next. The juvenile system is quite a bit different than the adult criminal system, and for good reason. The goal of the juvenile system is to help, rather than punish, children who make questionable life choices that result in their arrest. 

A juvenile, any child age 17 or younger, who ends up in police custody, is automatically in the South Carolina juvenile justice system. Schools or a Circuit Solicitor may also recommend placement in this program. What happens next depends on several factors -- such as age, current criminal charge, prior criminal history and intake interview results, among other things. 

Find a safe way home if you plan to consume alcohol

Any time you plan on having a night out with friends, it is important to remember that accidents and other mishaps can happen at any time. Though you never intend to get rowdy or cause trouble, you may plan to have a few drinks as you meet and catch up with friends. You may consider yourself a responsible drinker, but it is important to remember that South Carolina police officers watch out for any signs of drinking and driving.

To avoid getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, you will want to determine your best options for finding a safe way home. Fortunately, a number of options exist for doing just that.

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