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How to Prepare for Your DUI Defense in Columbia, SC

October 21, 2021

: DUI Defense

There are strong consequences for DUI charges in Columbia, SC, such as fines, jail time, loss of driver’s license, and limited job opportunities. If it isn’t your first offense, those consequences could be even more severe. 

In order to defend yourself well and minimize your penalties, you’ll want to prepare for your DUI defense in Columbia, SC appropriately. Here’s an overview of how the process works, what you’ll need, and how working with a Columbia DUI lawyer can help you achieve better results. 

DUI Defense Process in Columbia, SC

After you’re arrested for DUI in Columbia, SC, the defense process can take many months to years to complete. If it’s your first offense, the process will generally follow these steps:

Implied Consent Hearing

If you refused the breathalyzer (DataMaster) test, or if your test concluded a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher, your driver’s license may be immediately suspended. You may request to challenge this with an Implied Consent Hearing. The hearing must be requested within 30 days after the incident, is independent of your DUI charge, and costs a $200 filing fee. 

Bench Trial

After your arrest, you’ll be scheduled for a bench trial. You’ll stand before a judge in court and either plead guilty or let the judge decide your case. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that you have a constitutional right to a jury trial if you are accused of a crime. Rather than letting a judge decide, defendants usually prefer six jurors to make the decision, so depending on your situation, it may be best to request a jury trial. Upon request, your initial bench trial date will be rescinded and you will be put on the jury trial roster, meaning your court appearance and trial will usually be rescheduled until a later date. 

Preparation and Pre-trial

While you wait for your trial date, you’ll prepare your defense with your Columbia, SC DUI lawyer. There will be an investigation into your arrest records, sobriety tests, possible witnesses and other circumstantial evidence. 

Some courts allow pre-trial hearings, where you can meet with the arresting officer and/or prosecutor to negotiate with them before going to trial. In other courts, pre-trial hearings aren’t used, so you can call the officer or prosecutor to negotiate. If you are unable to reach a plea agreement, your defense continues to a jury trial.

Jury Trial

Your jury trial will start with jury selection and pre-trial motions, including potential motions to dismiss and motions to exclude evidence. After that, opening statements are made to the jury, and evidence is examined. After all witnesses have been called and closing arguments are made, the jury discusses the evidence until they reach a verdict. The jury trial process usually takes a full day. 

What You’ll Need for Your DUI Defense In Columbia, SC

To prepare yourself for your DUI defense in Columbia, SC, you should have and review the following things:

  • The police report
  • Breathalyzer test records
  • All videos — including dashcams, roadside, and Datamaster room videos
  • An honest, detailed account of the incident, with details like names, dates, times, places, witnesses, etc.
  • Information about any past offenses and penalties
  • An understanding of the law, your rights, and your responsibilities
  • An experienced Columbia DUI lawyer
How Working With a Columbia DUI Lawyer Can Help You

While you can choose to legally represent yourself, working with a DUI defense attorney in Columbia can help you achieve a better outcome. Whether that means clearing your charge completely or minimizing your penalties, they’ll advocate for your best interests. They’ll also be able to help by:

  • Having a clear understanding of the law, your rights, and your responsibilities
  • Investigating your arrest record thoroughly in order to find any flaws in the prosecution’s case or errors made by law enforcement
  • Helping the jury acknowledge the facts of the case, instead of being swayed by emotional tactics
  • Potentially reducing your charges and saving you from the harshest consequences

Facing a court appearance for your DUI? Face the courtroom with Bernstein & Bernstein at your side. Our experienced defense attorneys will personally assist and walk you through the process so you know what to expect and how we plan to defend your case. Contact our office to get started.

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