Could Your DUI Case Be Dismissed?
A dismissal is the most optimal outcome following a DUI arrest. It prevents you from having to go through the court system and ensures that the offense does not appear on your criminal record. It also results in your driving privileges being reinstated in most cases.
But is a dismissal a realistic option if you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Georgia or South Carolina? It depends entirely on the circumstances of your case. A knowledgeable DUI defense attorney can explain some situations that can lead to dismissal and clear up common misunderstandings about getting your DUI charges dropped.
What Can Cause a DUI Case to Be Dismissed?
A dismissal occurs when the prosecution or judge voluntarily terminates the criminal proceedings. When this happens, the defendant will not face legal consequences for the charges. While many DUIs will not be eligible for a dismissal, your defense lawyer may seek to have your charges dropped if your case has sufficient evidence of one of the following situations.
Lack of Probable Cause
In order to pull you over for a traffic stop, the officer must have a valid reason to believe that you were violating the law. Your case could be dismissed if the video or eyewitness evidence does not demonstrate probable cause. There must also be probable cause for the DUI arrest. If you did not show evidence of intoxication, such as blowing under the legal limit on the roadside breath test, the officer might not have had enough cause to arrest you for the DUI.
Violation of Constitutional Rights
All individuals accused of a crime, including DUI, have guaranteed constitutional rights. If law enforcement officials violate these rights, it can result in your case being dismissed. For example, if you were the subject of an illegal search, it would represent a violation of your rights.
Evidence of Improper Procedure
All aspects of a DUI arrest and the subsequent testing must be performed to a specific set of standards. If an officer does not follow these procedures, it can jeopardize the state’s case. You may be able to have some evidence, such as Breathalyzer results, suppressed if the officer did not administer the test correctly. Without their key evidence, the prosecution might choose to dismiss your case or reduce your charges.
Failure to Comply With South Carolina’s Mandatory Videotape Law
If your DUI arrest occurred in South Carolina, state statutes require the arresting officer to record the entire traffic stop and the whole breath testing procedure in the Datamaster room following your arrest. If the video is missing or incomplete, your lawyer may be able to get the case dismissed. However, be aware that a lack of video does not guarantee a dismissal. The arresting officer may be able to get a valid affidavit under some circumstances that states that it was impossible to follow the statute due to situations beyond their control.
What Are Common Misconceptions About DUI Case Dismissals?
While there are many valid reasons for a DUI case to be dismissed, it’s essential to speak with an experienced DUI defense lawyer regarding your options. Not every case will warrant dismissal, and you may need to pursue other legal strategies to give yourself the best chance of avoiding serious criminal and civil consequences.
There is a significant amount of disinformation circulating among the public regarding when a DUI may be dismissed, and it is vital to seek professional legal counsel to ensure that you are on solid footing with your defense. Being aware of some of the following frequently repeated myths about DUI dismissals can help you have a more realistic idea of your defense options.
The Miranda Warning informs you of your right to a lawyer and explains that anything you say to an officer could be used against you during a trial. Despite what movies may portray, this warning is not mandatory before an arrest. It is only required prior to an interrogation of a suspect who is in custody. As such, it generally doesn’t apply to DUI arrests, and your case probably won’t be dismissed if the officer did not Mirandize you.
Sometimes officers will pull over an individual outside their usual jurisdiction if they have reason to believe they are violating the law. Many people think these arrests are invalid because the officer is operating outside of the town or county where they are employed. However, nearly all officers have the right to make an arrest anywhere within the state. The arrest will likely be considered valid as long as the officer had probable cause to pull you over. The only possible exceptions are police with limited scopes, such as university police.
Pre-Trial Diversions and First-Offender Pleas
Georgia offers pre-trial diversions and first-offender pleas for certain types of charges. A pre-trial diversion, also known as a conditional discharge, allows an offender to earn a dismissal of their charge by completing court-ordered actions, such as community service or probation. A first-offender plea is a way for an individual without a prior criminal record to avoid a severe charge for their first crime.
Unfortunately, people facing DUIs are explicitly disallowed by state law from seeking pre-trial diversions and first-offender pleas.
Why Hire a DUI Defense Lawyer?
While a dismissal is possible for DUI cases in South Carolina and Georgia, it can be challenging to achieve, particularly if you are attempting to represent yourself in court. An experienced defense lawyer deeply understands all aspects of the law and can quickly determine the best legal options for your unique case.
They also have the time and resources to collect evidence and interview witnesses to get the proof required for a strong defense. To discuss your DUI with a skilled defense lawyer, contact Bannon Law today at 843-815-4505.