DUI Defenses: Fighting Your SC DUI When You Failed the Field Sobriety Tests

DUI Defenses: Fighting Your SC DUI When You Failed the Field Sobriety Tests

When you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, building a comprehensive defense strategy is absolutely essential. Prosecutors may have several forms of evidence available, and even if you can successfully challenge one piece of evidence, the remaining evidence may still be enough to establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Then, there is the fact that prosecutors have two ways to prove a DUI charge in South Carolina. Under the state’s DUI statute, you can be found guilty if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit or your “faculties to drive are materially and appreciably impaired.” Prosecutors do not need to prove both.

As a result, while many people focus on their BAC, challenging your BAC reading alone may not be enough to protect you. If you took the field sobriety tests (FSTs), you may need to challenge your FST results as well (in addition to challenging any other evidence prosecutors have in their possession).

Challenging Your Field Sobriety Test Results: The Officer Administered the Tests Improperly

One way to challenge your field sobriety test results is by demonstrating that your arresting officer administered the tests improperly. Police officers must take several steps to properly administer each of the three FSTs—and, if they don’t take all of these steps, this can render your test results unreliable.

The steps police officers must take when administering the field sobriety tests include:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

  • Hold the stimulus approximately 12 to 15 inches from the nose and just above eye level.
  • Check for equal pupil size and resting nystagmus.
  • Check for equal tracking and smooth movement in both eyes, then repeat.
  • Check for each eye being held at maximum deviation for a minimum of four seconds, then repeat.
  • Check that each eye moves slowly from the center to 45 degrees, then repeat.
  • Check for vertical gaze nystagmus, then repeat.

Walk and Turn

  • Instruct the suspect to place their feet on a line, heel-to-toe with arms at their sides.
  • Ask if the suspect understands the instructions.
  • Tell the subject to take nine heel-to-toe steps.
  • Explain the turning procedure.
  • Tell the suspect to count steps out loud, look at their feet while walking, and not raise their arms.
  • Do not tell the suspect to stop once they begin.
  • Ask again if the suspect understood all of the instructions.

One Leg Stand

  • Instruct the suspect to stand straight, place their feet together, and hold their arms at their sides.
  • Ask if the suspect understands the instructions.
  • Tell the suspect to raise one leg approximately six inches off of the ground.
  • Tell the suspect to keep both legs straight and look at their elevated foot.
  • Tell the suspect to count seconds out loud until told to stop (up to 30 seconds).

If your arresting officer cannot testify that he or she took all of the required steps to properly administer the field sobriety tests during your DUI stop, this may be enough to keep your FST results out of court. But, even if the officer properly administered the FSTs, you may still have defenses available—as we discuss below.

Challenging Your Field Sobriety Test Results: Other Factors Render Your Results Unreliable

While the field sobriety tests can serve as evidence of intoxication in a DUI case, they are also notoriously unreliable. Several factors besides a person’s intoxication can lead to a “failure” of one or more of the FSTs. These include (but are not limited to) factors such as:

  • Medical conditions that affect a person’s balance.
  • Medical conditions that affect a person’s eye movement.
  • Wearing shoes or clothes that make it difficult to balance.
  • Walking or standing on gravel, muddy ground, or an angled shoulder.
  • Having headlights or bright sunlight in your eyes.
  • Not being able to see adequately in the dark.
  • Attempting to take the field sobriety tests in rainy or windy conditions.

If any of these factors (or any other non-alcohol-related factor) played a role in causing you to “fail” the field sobriety tests, then prosecutors should not be able to use your test results against you. In this scenario, your test results are not evidence of impairment, and they should not put you at risk for a life-altering conviction.

When considering these types of defenses, it is important to remember that you do not need to prove your innocence to avoid a conviction. The burden of proof always rests with the prosecution. So, if your attorney can raise the possibility that a non-alcohol-related factor led to your “failure” of the FSTs, this could be enough to keep your FST results from being used against you.

Challenging Your Field Sobriety Test Results: The Police Stopped You Without Reasonable Suspicion

A third option for challenging your field sobriety test results is challenging the reason for your traffic stop. To conduct a lawful traffic stop, the police must have “reasonable suspicion” that you committed (or are in the process of committing) a traffic violation or crime. Stopping you without reasonable suspicion violates your constitutional rights, and it can serve as grounds for a motion to have all of the evidence from your traffic stop excluded from your DUI trial.

As with all types of DUI defenses, determining how you can challenge your field sobriety test results requires an in-depth assessment of the facts of your case. To ensure that you are defending yourself by all means available, you should discuss your case with an experienced SC DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Request a Free and Confidential Consultation with a SC DUI Defense Lawyer

Do you need to know more about how to challenge your field sobriety test results after a DUI arrest in South Carolina? If so, we invite you to get in touch. With offices in Rock Hill, we handle DUI cases throughout South Carolina. To discuss your case with an experienced SC DUI defense lawyer in confidence, call 803-328-8822 or request a free consultation online now.

Important Lessons for Individuals Facing DUI Charges in South Carolina: 2023 Recap

Important Lessons for Individuals Facing DUI Charges in South Carolina: 2023 Recap

If you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, there is a lot you need to know. Whether this is your first time facing charges or you are facing charges as a repeat offender, you have a lot at stake, and you need to be very careful to protect yourself.

When you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, one of the keys to protecting yourself is making informed decisions. The more you know, the more you do to mitigate your risk of facing unnecessary consequences. With this in mind, here are some important lessons we’ve covered throughout the year:

Handling Your DUI Case if You Were Driving Drunk

While some people who get DUIs are sober, lots of people who get DUIs are driving drunk at the time of their arrest. If you were driving drunk when you got arrested, what does this mean for your defense? Should you accept the consequences and move on? Or do you still have options for fighting your DUI?

In South Carolina, there are several ways to fight a DUI charge, even if you were under the influence behind the wheel. To learn about the options you may have available, you can read: How To Handle a South Carolina DUI Case When You Were Driving Drunk.

What Is the “Best” Defense to a DUI?

Let’s say you are facing a DUI charge, and let’s say you were intoxicated at the time of your arrest. In this scenario, what is the best way to fight your DUI?

The short answer is, “It depends.” As we just mentioned, there are several ways to fight a DUI charge, even if you were driving drunk. But, the defenses that you can use depend entirely on the facts of your case. With this in mind, there is no single “best” defense—and the best defense for you is the one that will minimize the consequences of your arrest as much as possible. Learn more: What is the Best Defense to a DUI in South Carolina?

What if the Police Recorded You with a Dash Cam?

Prosecutors in South Carolina can use several forms of evidence to prove DUI charges. One of these forms of evidence is dash camera footage. But, sometimes, having your traffic stop and arrest caught on camera can work to your advantage.

Was your DUI stop caught on camera? If so, here’s what you need to know: How Can Dash Camera Footage Help (or Hurt) Your Defense in a South Carolina DUI Case?

Consequences of Taking (or Refusing) a Breath Test

Under South Carolina’s implied consent law, you are required to take a breath test during your DUI stop in most cases. But, there are exceptions—and if you refused the breath test, knowing whether any of these exceptions apply is extremely important.

Why? Because if you refused the breath test, you could face penalties for an “implied consent violation” even if you weren’t driving under the influence. Additionally, prosecutors may also be able to use your refusal against you in your DUI case. Learn more: Can You Get Convicted of DUI if You Refuse a Breath Test in South Carolina?

Consequences of Causing an Accident While Driving Drunk

While the consequences of a DUI can be substantial, they can be even more significant if you cause an accident while driving under the influence. South Carolina’s DUI laws impose enhanced penalties in cases involving “great bodily injury” or death.

As a result, if you are facing a DUI charge after an accident in South Carolina, you must discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible. To learn what you have at stake, you can read: Fighting a DUI Involving Great Bodily Injury (or Death) in South Carolina.

Don’t Fall for These South Carolina DUI Myths

As we said in the introduction, making informed decisions is critical for protecting yourself when you are facing a DUI. With this in mind, you need to avoid falling for any of the all-too-common myths that you will find online.

For example, while jail time isn’t a risk for first-time offenders in some states, it is a risk for first-time offenders in South Carolina. While you might be able to avoid jail time with experienced legal representation, there are no guarantees. If you are facing a DUI charge, we strongly encourage you to read:  South Carolina DUI Myths: What You Really Need to Know After a Drunk Driving Arrest.

Protecting Yourself After a DUI Arrest

Making sure you don’t fall for common myths is just one of numerous steps you need to take to protect yourself after a DUI arrest in South Carolina. You need to take your case very seriously, and you need to make sure you do everything you possibly can to protect yourself.

What specifically do you need to do if you’ve been arrested for DUI? Find out here: 10 Steps to Protect Yourself After a DUI Arrest in South Carolina.

How Hard Is It to Fight a DUI?

So, you know that fighting your DUI is important. But, how realistic is it to fight your charge successfully?

While fighting a DUI charge isn’t easy, there are several potential defenses to drunk driving charges under South Carolina law. Although you will struggle to protect yourself if you try to handle your case on your own, you can significantly improve your chances of securing a favorable outcome by hiring an experienced defense attorney. Learn more: How Hard Is It to Fight a DUI Charge in South Carolina?

Are You Facing DUI Charges in South Carolina? Schedule a Free Consultation Today

We provide experienced legal representation for individuals who are facing DUI charges in South Carolina. If you are facing the consequences of a drunk driving arrest, we can use our experience to protect you by all means available. To learn more in a free and confidential consultation, call 803-328-8822 or tell us how we can reach you online today.

South Carolina DUI Myths: What You Really Need to Know After a Drunk Driving Arrest

South Carolina DUI Myths: What You Really Need to Know After a Drunk Driving Arrest

If you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, it will be essential to separate myth from reality. There are many DUI myths out there, and if you rely on insufficient information, you could make poor decisions that negatively impact your life for years.

So, what do you need to know if facing a DUI charge in South Carolina? Here is the truth behind seven common myths about dealing with the consequences of a drunk driving arrest:

Myth #1: A DUI Isn’t a Serious Crime

Since a DUI is many people’s first introduction to the criminal justice system, these cases aren’t heavily punished. Sometimes, a DUI is treated as a traffic violation rather than a criminal offense.

Truth: In South Carolina, DUI is a severe crime.

In South Carolina, DUI is a criminal offense that carries the potential for fines, a driver’s license suspension, and various other penalties. While some states classify certain DUI offenses as traffic violations, South Carolina law classifies all DUIs as crimes. Most DUI charges are misdemeanors; however, prosecutors can pursue felony DUI charges in some cases.

Myth #2: You Won’t Go to Jail as a First-Time DUI Offender

If you get convicted of DUI, you might face fines and other penalties, but you won’t go to jail. Since jail time isn’t on the table, handling your DUI case alone is okay.

Truth: All DUI charges carry potential jail time under South Carolina law.

In South Carolina, first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.080% to 0.099% face a minimum of 48 hours of jail time. However, first-time offenders can also be sentenced to up to 30 days. While community service may be available as an alternative to jail time in some cases, DUI defendants must know how to seek community service effectively.

Myth #3: Prosecutors Won’t Be Able to Convict You if They Don’t Have Your BAC

Prosecutors need your BAC to secure a conviction. If you refused the breath test, or if you can argue that your test result is unreliable, this is enough to avoid a DUI conviction.

Truth: Your BAC is just one of numerous forms of evidence prosecutors can use to prove drunk driving.

Prosecutors don’t need your BAC to secure a conviction. While a high BAC reading can be strong evidence of guilt, it is just one of several types of evidence that may be available. Additionally, suppose prosecutors don’t have your BAC because you refused the breath test. In that case, you can be charged with an “implied consent” violation regardless of whether you were drunk, and prosecutors can also use your refusal against you in your DUI case.

Myth #4: If Prosecutors Have Your BAC, You Might As Well Plead Guilty

If you took a breath test and blew above the legal limit, you might as sufficiently plead guilty. If prosecutors have your BAC, you can do nothing to avoid a conviction.

Truth: Even if prosecutors have your BAC, you may still have several options for fighting your DUI.

A high BAC does not guarantee a guilty verdict. There are several ways to dispute the reliability of your BAC reading and potentially to keep your BAC reading out of court. When you hire an experienced DUI defense lawyer, your lawyer will examine all options for dealing with your high BAC reading, from showing that the breathalyzer device wasn’t recently calibrated to arguing that all of the prosecution’s evidence is inadmissible because your traffic stop or arrest violated your Fourth Amendment rights.

Myth #5: You Can’t Get a Plea Deal in a DUI Case

In DUI cases, negotiating a plea deal isn’t an option. You will need to fight your DUI charge in court, and, if you aren’t successful, you will get convicted.

Truth: In South Carolina, it is possible to negotiate a plea deal in a DUI case.

While this is true in some states, it isn’t true in South Carolina. Prosecutors will consider plea deals in appropriate cases. If it makes sense to negotiate a plea in your case, your defense lawyer can argue for a reduced charge that mitigates the consequences of your drunk driving arrest.

Myth #6: Once You Serve Your Sentence, You Will Be Able to Move On with Your Life

While getting convicted of DUI isn’t ideal, once you serve your sentence, you can move on with your life. Your DUI will be in the past, and you will be able to forget that it ever happened.

Truth: A DUI conviction can negatively impact your life long after you serve your criminal sentence.

A South Carolina DUI conviction stays on your record after you serve your sentence. This means that it will show up in background checks when you apply to school, apply for a job, apply for a loan, and apply for housing. As a result, a DUI conviction can truly impact all aspects of your life.

Myth #7: You Don’t Need a Defense Lawyer to Represent You

Given the cost of hiring a defense lawyer, you might as well handle your DUI case alone. The legal fees aren’t worth it, and the judge will go easy on you if you aren’t represented.

Truth: Handling a DUI case alone can be far more costly than hiring a defense lawyer.

When facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, an experienced defense lawyer can help you in numerous ways. If your lawyer can help you negotiate a plea deal or avoid a conviction, your legal fees will pay for themselves multiple times.

Discuss Your Case with a DUI Defense Lawyer in Rock Hill, SC

If you need to know more about facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, we encourage you to contact us promptly. For a free and confidential consultation with an experienced DUI defense lawyer in Rock Hill, call 803-328-8822 or request an appointment online today.

Fighting a DUI Involving Great Bodily Injury (or Death) in South Carolina

Fighting a DUI Involving Great Bodily Injury (or Death) in South Carolina

The penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in South Carolina are severe. But, they are even more severe if you cause an accident while driving drunk. South Carolina’s DUI laws imposed enhanced penalties in cases involving “great bodily injury” or death—with a 25-year prison sentence on the table in some cases.

With this in mind, if you are facing a DUI charge involving a serious or fatal accident in South Carolina, you need to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. This is true regardless of whether you were drunk behind the wheel. You need to fight your DUI charge by all means available; and, if you cannot avoid penalties entirely, you need to do everything you can to minimize the consequences of your arrest.

Understanding the Consequences of a DUI Accident in South Carolina

In South Carolina, a “standard” first-time DUI charge carries 48 hours to 30 days in jail (though it is possible to perform community service in lieu of jail time in many cases). However, if you are being charged with causing a serious or fatal accident while driving under the influence, the stakes in your case are much, much higher:

  • DUI Resulting in Great Bodily Injury – In cases involving DUI accidents resulting in great bodily injury, the potential penalties include fines of up to $10,100 ($21,119.50 with assessments and surcharges) and 30 days to 15 years of imprisonment.
  • DUI Resulting in Death – In cases involving DUI accidents resulting in death, the potential penalties include fines of up to $25,100 ($52,224.50 with assessments and surcharges) and one year to 25 years of imprisonment.

These are in addition to the other “standard” penalties and collateral consequences of a DUI conviction. Being convicted of a DUI involving a serious or fatal accident can truly impact the rest of your life. To avoid unnecessary consequences, you need to fight your DUI charge in court, and this starts with hiring an experienced defense lawyer to represent you.

Defending Against a DUI Charge Involving a Serious or Fatal Accident

While there are several potential ways to defend against a DUI charge involving a serious or fatal accident in South Carolina, determining the best defense strategy for your case requires a thorough investigation and a detailed understanding of the facts involved. With this in mind, some examples of defense strategies that might prove effective in your case include:

1. The Prosecution Can’t Prove that You Were Under the Influence

Regardless of the circumstances of your case, the prosecution has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. So, if the prosecution can’t prove that you were under the influence, this can serve as a complete defense to the charges against you.

There are various ways to challenge the prosecution’s evidence of driving under the influence. These include challenging the accuracy of your breath test results, challenging the reliability of your blood or urine test, and challenging the arresting officer’s interpretation of your performance on the field sobriety tests (FSTs)—among others.

Importantly, South Carolina’s DUI law allows for convictions based on evidence of a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or evidence of impairment. So, even if your BAC reading is unreliable, your lawyer may still need to challenge other evidence that you were too drunk to drive.

2. The Prosecution Can’t Prove that You Caused the Accident

Your defense lawyer may also be able to fight your DUI accident charge by challenging the prosecution’s evidence that you caused the accident. If you happened to be drunk when someone else hit you, you may be guilty of DUI, but you are not guilty of causing great bodily injury or death.

In non-fatal accident cases, it may also be possible to challenge the prosecution’s case by arguing that the accident did not result in “great bodily injury.” South Carolina law defines “great bodily injury” as an injury that, “creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss of or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.”

3. The Prosecution’s Evidence is Inadmissible in Court

In addition to challenging the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence, your lawyer may also be able to fight your DUI accident charge by arguing that the prosecution’s evidence is inadmissible in court. Even if the prosecution’s evidence clearly shows that you are guilty, if the prosecution can’t use its evidence against you, you may still be able to avoid a conviction.

Several issues can render the prosecution’s evidence inadmissible in a DUI case. This includes everything from an unconstitutional arrest to improperly withholding exculpatory evidence prior to trial. Your defense lawyer can determine if you have grounds to challenge the admissibility of the prosecution’s evidence; and, if so, your lawyer can file a motion to keep the prosecution’s evidence out of court.  

4. Raising Other Issues with the Prosecution of Your DUI Case

Along with evidentiary issues, various other issues can create problems for the prosecution as well. This includes everything from improper jury selection to judicial errors during trial. If you have any grounds to argue for a dismissal, mistrial, or acquittal, an experienced defense lawyer will be able to use this to your advantage.

5. Negotiating a Plea Deal that Minimizes the Consequences of Your Arrest

Finally, if you are at risk for a conviction and harsh sentencing at trial, you may still be able to minimize the consequences of your arrest by negotiating a plea deal. Negotiating a favorable plea deal requires a strategic approach; and, here too, it is critical to have an experienced defense lawyer on your side.

Discuss Your DUI Accident Case with a Defense Lawyer in Rock Hill, SC

If you are facing a DUI charge involving an accident that resulted in great bodily injury or death in South Carolina, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced defense lawyer in Rock Hill, SC, call 803-328-8822 or request an appointment online now.

Can You Get Convicted of DUI if You Refuse a Breath Test in South Carolina?

Can You Get Convicted of DUI if You Refuse a Breath Test in South Carolina?

When the police pull someone over on suspicion of drunk driving in South Carolina, they will usually ask for a breath sample. Most people will consent to a breath test—either because they know they are required to do so under South Carolina’s “implied consent” law or because they are too scared to say “No.”

But, what if you refuse?

If you refuse a breath test, can prosecutors still prove you were driving drunk? Or, do they need a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading to convict you? Unfortunately, not only can you still face a DUI conviction, but you can face an additional conviction for your “implied consent” violation.

How Prosecutors Can Prove Drunk Driving Without a BAC Reading

In some states, the police can force you to provide a blood sample if you refuse to take a breath test on the side of the road. But, this isn’t the case in South Carolina. Just as the police cannot force you to blow into the breathalyzer device, they cannot force you to undergo a blood draw.

Even so, prosecutors don’t need a breath sample or a blood sample to prove that you were drunk behind the wheel. This is due to the specific language of South Carolina’s drunk driving statute.

South Carolina’s drunk driving statute establishes two separate offenses. One of these offenses, driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC), requires proof of your BAC. This section of South Carolina’s DUI law states:

“It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while his alcohol concentration is eight one-hundredths of one percent or more.”

Under the DUAC law, if your BAC is 0.08% or above, this is all it takes for prosecutors to secure a conviction. If the police obtain a valid BAC reading without violating your constitutional rights, avoiding a DUAC conviction can be very challenging—and negotiating a plea bargain may be your best option.

The other offense established under South Carolina’s drunk driving statute does not require proof of your BAC.

Instead, the offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (commonly referred to as DUI) focuses on your behavior behind the wheel. This section of South Carolina’s drunk driving statute states:

“It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired . . . .”

As you can see, nothing here requires evidence that your BAC was 0.08% or above. If prosecutors can prove that your ability to drive was “materially and appreciably impaired” due to your consumption of alcohol, this alone is enough to prove a DUI.

As a result, while refusing a breath test might prevent the State of South Carolina from prosecuting you for DUAC, it won’t protect you against prosecution for DUI. Since the penalties for DUAC and DUI are the same, this means that you can face the same consequences regardless of whether you consent to a breath test on the side of the road.

With that said, there are some additional factors to consider. These include:

1. If You Refuse a Breath Test, You Can Be Charged with an Implied Consent Violation

Under South Carolina’s “implied consent” law, you are required to take a breath test when the police pull you over for drunk driving. While the police need to meet certain requirements before the law applies, they are trained to meet these requirements—and they will do so in most (but not all) cases.

If the “implied consent” law applies and you refuse a breath test, you can be charged with an “implied consent” violation. You can be convicted of an “implied consent” violation regardless of whether you were driving drunk—and, if you are convicted, you can face a minimum six-month driver’s license suspension unless you enroll in South Carolina’s Ignition Interlock Device Program.

2. If You Refuse a Breath Test, Prosecutors May Not Have the Evidence They Need to Prove DUI

While prosecutors can pursue a DUI charge without evidence of your BAC, in order to do so, they need evidence that your driving faculties were “materially and appreciably impaired.” While this evidence can take many forms—from dash camera footage of your vehicle on the road to the arresting officer’s testimony regarding your slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, there are several potential ways to defend against a DUI charge in South Carolina state court.

However, refusing a breath test has another important consequence: Under South Carolina’s “implied consent” law, prosecutors can use your refusal against you in court. In other words, they can present your refusal as evidence that you knew you were drunk behind the wheel.

3. In All Cases, Determining What Defenses You Have Available Requires Experienced Legal Representation

As you can see, there are several important (and complicated) issues involved in defending against a drunk driving charge in South Carolina. If you refused a breath test during your DUI stop, you should speak with a lawyer promptly.

An experienced South Carolina DUI lawyer will be able to examine the facts of your case to determine if the arresting officer took the steps necessary to trigger South Carolina’s “implied consent” law. If not, your lawyer can use this in your defense. If so, your lawyer can determine what other options you have available. Even if you cannot avoid penalties entirely, your lawyer can still help ensure that the consequences of your drunk driving arrest are no greater than necessary.

Speak with a South Carolina DUI Lawyer in Rock Hill for Free

If you need to know more about your options after refusing a breath test during a DUI stop in South Carolina, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced South Carolina DUI lawyer in Rock Hill, call 803-328-8822 or request an appointment online today.

How Can Dash Camera Footage Help (or Hurt) Your Defense in a South Carolina DUI Case?

How Can Dash Camera Footage Help (or Hurt) Your Defense in a South Carolina DUI Case?

The police are required to videotape all DUI arrests under South Carolina law. All police vehicles in the state are equipped (or should be equipped) with video cameras; and, when the police initiate a traffic stop based on reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), they must start recording as soon as they turn on their lights.

If you have been arrested for DUI, it is important to understand how the dash camera footage of your arrest may be able to help with your defense. It is also important to understand how (and when) prosecutors can use this dash camera footage against you. As with all other aspects of a DUI case in South Carolina, strict rules apply, and you need to work with an experienced defense lawyer who can use these rules to your advantage.

How Dash Camera Footage Can Help Your DUI Defense

Let’s start with how dash camera footage can help your DUI case in South Carolina. Let’s say you were driving home after a night out, and you saw blue lights in your rearview mirror. The police officer started recording when he or she turned on the lights (as required by South Carolina law), and the officer’s dash camera recorded your entire DUI arrest.

In this scenario, there are a variety of ways your defense lawyer might be able to use the officer’s dash camera footage to your advantage. For example:

  • The dash camera footage does not suggest you were driving under the influence. If the officer’s dash camera footage does not show you driving erratically, drifting out of your lane, or running a red light or stop sign, your lawyer may be able to challenge your arrest based on a lack of reasonable suspicion.
  • The dash camera footage shows that the officer failed to properly administer the breathalyzer. When administering the breathalyzer, police officers in South Carolina must follow a specific set of rules and procedures. If the dash cam footage shows that the officer administered your breath test improperly, your BAC reading may be inadmissible in court.
  • The dash camera footage shows that the officer failed to properly administer the field sobriety tests (FSTs). Specific requirements also apply to the administration of the field sobriety tests (FSTs). If the footage shows that the officer failed to properly explain the tests or had you perform the tests on unlevel ground (among other issues), these test results may be inadmissible as well.
  • The dash camera footage shows that the officer failed to read your Miranda rights. The police must read your Miranda rights before interrogating you in custody. If there is no evidence that the arresting officer read your rights, then you may also have grounds to keep any statements you made after being taken into custody out of court.  
  • The dash camera footage shows that you passed the FSTs. In addition to showing police mistakes or misconduct, the dash camera footage of your DUI arrest could also show that there is no evidence of impairment. For example, even if the arresting officer reported that you failed the FSTs, the footage may show that you were fully able to maintain control of your faculties.

Again, these are just examples. When you hire a defense lawyer to represent you, your lawyer can obtain the dash camera footage from your DUI arrest and review it to determine all of the ways it can potentially help (or hurt) your defense. Based on what the footage shows, your lawyer can then help you make informed decisions about how to handle your case—whether you need to consider a plea bargain or diversionary program, or you have grounds to fight your DUI charge in court.

How Dash Camera Footage Can Hurt Your DUI Defense

While there are a variety of ways an experienced defense lawyer may be able to use the dash camera footage of your DUI arrest to your advantage, these defenses won’t always be possible. In some cases, the arresting officer’s dash camera footage will work to the prosecution’s advantage instead. For example, dash camera footage of your DUI arrest could hurt your defense if:

  • The dash camera footage of your traffic stop shows that you were driving dangerously in a manner consistent with alcohol impairment.
  • The dash camera footage shows that the arresting officer followed the protocols for properly administering the breathalyzer.
  • The dash camera footage shows that the arresting officer followed the protocols for properly administering the FSTs.
  • The dash camera footage shows the officer reading your Miranda rights before you admitted to drinking and driving.
  • The dash camera footage confirms the arresting officer’s interpretation of your performance on the FSTs.

Here, too, these are just examples. Experienced prosecutors will thoroughly review the footage of your arrest and determine all of the ways they can use this footage against you. If the footage shows that you were driving under the influence, this could present challenges for your defense, and you will need to rely on your lawyer to determine what other defense options you have available.

What if Your DUI Stop Wasn’t Recorded?

Even though the police are required to record all DUI stops, some DUI stops don’t get recorded. So, what happens if your DUI arrest wasn’t caught on video?

If the officer who arrested you failed to record your DUI stop, this could potentially be enough to get your DUI charge dismissed. However, the officer may also be able to submit an affidavit stating that the camera was inoperable. If this happens, and if prosecutors can show that the failure to record your arrest was justified, they may still be able to use other forms of evidence to secure a conviction.

Discuss Your Case with a Rock Hill DUI Defense Lawyer

Are you facing a DUI charge in Rock Hill, SC? If so, you can contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer in confidence, call 803-328-8822 or tell us how we can reach you online now. 

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