Charged with DUI Drugs in South Carolina?

Charged with DUI Drugs in South Carolina?

Driving under the influence of alcohol is not the only way to get a DUI charge in South Carolina. You can also be charged with DUI for driving under the influence of drugs (“DUI drugs”). While there are some similarities between DUI cases involving alcohol and drugs, there are also important differences, and you will need to hire a lawyer who has experience handling your specific charge.

What is DUI Drugs in South Carolina?

South Carolina’s DUI statute applies to both alcohol and drugs. Under Section 56-5-2930(A) of the South Carolina Code of Laws:

“It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while under the influence of alcohol . . . [or] any other drug or a combination of other drugs or substances which cause impairment to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired . . . .”

Since DUI and DUI drugs are technically the same offense, they are also subject to the same penalties. This means that if you have been charged with DUI drugs in South Carolina, you could be facing:

First-Time DUI Charge

  • $400 fine
  • Additional assessments and surcharges
  • Six-month driver’s license suspension
  • Minimum 48-hour jail sentence (up to 30 days)
  • Possible community service in lieu of jail time
  • Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program completion

Second-Time DUI Charge

  • $2,100 to $5,100 fine
  • Additional assessments and surcharges
  • One-year driver’s license suspension
  • Five days to one year of jail time
  • Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program completion

Third-Time DUI Charge

  • $3,800 to $6,300 fine
  • Additional assessments and surcharges
  • Two-year driver’s license suspension
  • 60 days to three years of jail time
  • Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program completion

Fourth or Subsequent DUI

  • Court-determined fines, assessments, and surcharges
  • Permanent driver’s license revocation
  • One to five years of jail time
  • Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program completion

The fact that DUI and DUI drugs are technically the same offense also means that you can be charged as a repeat offender if you have a prior alcohol-related DUI and you are now facing a charge for DUI drugs. Likewise, if you have a prior drug-related DUI conviction involving a drug that is different from the one involved in your current case, you can still be charged with a second (or subsequent) DUI drugs.

What are Potential Defenses to a DUI Drugs Charge in South Carolina?

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, methamphetamine, prescription painkillers, or any other legal or illegal drug, what defenses can you assert in South Carolina court? The answer to this question depends on the specific facts of your case. Generally speaking, however, some examples of potential defenses to drug-related DUI charges in South Carolina include:

1. You Were Not Under the Influence of a Drug (or Drugs)

One potential defense is that you were not actually driving under the influence of drugs. If the arresting officer mistakenly assumed that you were under the influence (maybe because he or she found drugs or drug paraphernalia in your vehicle), your attorney can seek to challenge the prosecution’s evidence that you were violating the law.

2. Your Ability to Drive was Not “Materially and Appreciably Impaired”

Even if it is not possible to dispute the fact that you were driving under the influence of drugs, you may still be able to avoid a DUI drugs conviction by arguing that you were not “materially and appreciably impaired.” This language in South Carolina’s DUI statute establishes a high bar for prosecutors; and, while there may be evidence (i.e. dash camera footage) demonstrating your impairment, it may be possible for your attorney to challenge this element of the government’s case as well.

3. The Police Stopped You Illegally

In order to conduct a lawful traffic stop, the police must have “reasonable suspicion” that the person stopped is guilty of a crime. If the police stopped you without reasonable suspicion, then any evidence obtained subsequent to your traffic stop may be inadmissible in court.

When can you assert lack of reasonable suspicion as a defense? While there are several possible scenarios, racial profiling is easily among the most-common grounds. However, if the police pulled you over for a busted taillight and then charged you with DUI drugs, this does not mean that they lacked reasonable suspicion to make an arrest.

4. The Police Conducted an Illegal Search, Seizure, or Arrest

In addition to having “reasonable suspicion” to conduct a traffic stop, the police must also have “probable cause” to conduct a search or seizure—or to make an arrest. If the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an illegal search, seizure, or arrest, this could also provide grounds to seek suppression of the prosecution’s evidence against you.

5. Your Blood or Urine Test Results are Unreliable

If you took a blood or urine test, there are a number of ways that your defense attorney may be able to challenge your test results. One option is to show that the arresting officer failed to inform you of your rights under South Carolina’s implied consent law. Other possible options include:

  • Demonstrating that the test was administered improperly;
  • Demonstrating that your sample was (or may have been) tainted; and,
  • Arguing that the results do not prove you were impaired at the time of your traffic stop.

As mentioned above, these are just examples. There are other ways to defend against a DUI drugs charge in South Carolina as well. To find out what defenses you can use to fight your DUI drugs charge, contact us to discuss your case today.

Charged with DUI Drugs in South Carolina? Talk to a Rock Hill Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Are you facing a DUI drugs charge in South Carolina? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly to discuss your case. To speak with an experienced Rock Hill criminal defense lawyer in confidence, call 803-328-8822 or tell us how we can reach you online now.

What Should You Do After a DUI Arrest in South Carolina?

What Should You Do After a DUI Arrest in South Carolina?

A DUI arrest can change your life. There is simply no other way to put it. From losing your driver’s license to losing your job – not to mention the possibility of facing jail time – the consequences of getting arrested for drunk driving in South Carolina can be severe.

With this in mind, when facing a DUI charge, there is a lot you need to know. There are steps you need to take, there are mistakes you need to avoid, and there are realities with which you need to come to terms. Previously, we wrote about seven mistakes to avoid after a DUI arrest in South Carolina. Now, here are seven steps you can (and should) take to mitigate the consequences of your arrest:

7 Steps to Take After a DUI Arrest in South Carolina

Step #1: Know Your Rights

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime in South Carolina, and this means that, as a criminal defendant, you have many legal rights. You need to be aware of these rights so that you can assert them effectively, and so that you can discuss any potential violations of your legal rights with your DUI defense lawyer. If the police or prosecutors violate your rights, there are legal remedies available, and you may be able to use these remedies to avoid a conviction at trial.

You had rights during your traffic stop, you had the right rights when you were at the police station, and you have rights now has your DUI case is pending in South Carolina state court. These rights include (but are not limited to):

  • The right to an attorney
  • The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures
  • he right to remain silent
  • The right to know the state’s evidence
  • The right to a speedy trial

Learn more: What are Your Constitutional Rights After an Arrest in South Carolina?

Step #2: Get a Lawyer

Since you are reading this, we will assume that you haven’t yet hired a lawyer. Now is the time to do so. DUI cases are complex, and the consequences are severe, and you cannot afford to try to handle your case on your own.

From helping you assert your constitutional rights to simply helping you understand what is going on in your DUI case, there are many ways that an experienced South Carolina DUI lawyer will be able to help you. You only get one chance to defend yourself. If you make mistakes because you don’t know any better, those mistakes could haunt you for the rest of your life.

Learn more: Why Do You Need a Lawyer for SC DUI Charges?

Step #3: Get Ready for Your Administrative Hearing

One fact most people don’t know about South Carolina DUI cases is that there are two entirely separate legal processes involved. There is the criminal justice process that culminates with a trial in court (unless your attorney can secure a favorable pre-trial resolution); but, before your trial, there is an administrative hearing.

When you get arrested for DUI, you will lose your license as the result of an “administrative suspension.” This administrative suspension happens automatically before your trial unless you request an administrative hearing. During your administrative hearing, your lawyer can present arguments for why your license should not be suspended, and this is the only way to protect your driver’s license while your DUI case is pending.

Learn more: DUI in South Carolina? Know the Administrative Penalties

Step #4: Learn about the consequences of a DUI Conviction

If you get convicted of driving under the influence, the criminal penalties you will face will depend on your criminal history. In South Carolina, repeat offenders are punished far more severely than individuals charged with first-time DUIs—though even first offenses carry the potential for up to 30 days in jail.

To make sure you give your DUI case the attention it deserves, you need to know what is at stake. Once you know, you will almost certainly have a different perspective on the severity of your situation.

Learn more: Criminal Penalties for a DUI in South Carolina

Step #5: Separate Fact from Fiction

Just as there are steps you need to take and mistakes you need to avoid, there are facts you need to know and myths of which you need to be aware. When defending against a South Carolina DUI charge, you cannot afford to make bad decisions based on faulty information. You need to know your rights, you need to know what to expect in court, and you need to know what it takes for the prosecutor’s office to secure a conviction.

Learn more: Fact or Fiction: 6 Myths about Criminal Trials in South Carolina

Step #6: Get Proactive About Your Defense

When facing a DUI charge, one of the worst things you can do is sit back and let the criminal justice process run its course. While you have legal rights, the system is not designed to protect you, and the consequences of inaction can be severe.

Instead, you need to get proactive about your defense. Avoid making assumptions, and make sure you are doing everything in your power to secure a favorable result. Even if you were drinking and driving, you could still have defenses to DUI.

Learn more: Charged with DUI in South Carolina?

Step #7: Work Closely with Your Lawyer

Finally, while your lawyer will handle much of your case for you, you will still need to remain actively involved. From discussing possible defenses to preparing for your day in court, the more engaged you are, the better the outcome of your case is likely to be.

Learn more: What Happens After You Get Arrested in South Carolina?

Arrested for DUI? Speak with a Rock Hill, SC DUI Defense Lawyer Today

Have you been arrested for driving under the influence in South Carolina? To schedule an initial confidential consultation with DUI defense lawyer at The Law Offices of Michael L. Brown, Jr. in Rock Hill, call 803-328-8822or request an appointment online now.

Charged with DUI Over the Holidays? Get DUI Lawyer’s Free Consultation in South Carolina

Charged with DUI Over the Holidays? Get DUI Lawyer’s Free Consultation in South Carolina

Last year, we wrote about our tips for avoiding a DUI charge during the holiday season. But, what if it’s too late? What if you got pulled over during the holidays and you are now at risk for having a DUI conviction on your permanent record?

Facing a DUI charge in South Carolina is a very serious matter. In South Carolina, a DUI charge can lead to both administrative and criminal penalties, and the impacts of a conviction can extend to virtually all aspects of your life. Getting into school, getting around town, finding a job, keeping a job, and protecting your parental rights during a divorce or custody dispute are all harder with a DUI on your record. When you add in the financial costs, a DUI conviction can truly be a life-altering experience.

Here’s What You Need to Know if You Need to Fight a Holiday DUI

When faced with a DUI charge, the most important thing you need to know is that it is up to you to protect yourself. The prosecutor’s office is going to pursue your case, and the judge isn’t going to go easy on you because you got pulled over during the holidays. Driving drunk is dangerous. It is against the law. These facts don’t change with the seasons, and prosecutors and judges have an obligation to penalize those who break the law while putting others in harm’s way.

Here are seven more key facts about facing a DUI charge in South Carolina:

Key Fact #1: You Might Not Be Guilty.

You were arrested for DUI. An arrest is not a conviction, and it is not a finding of guilt. While the police rightfully pull over drivers who are under the influence, they also arrest people who are not actually guilty of DUI.

Do you take medications? Was there a long period of time between your traffic stop and your breath test? Could the breathalyzer have been improperly calibrated? Were you tired driving home late from a family gathering or holiday party? Do you have a medical condition? These are all possible explanations for driving behavior or a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading that might not actually be indicative of drunk driving. There are numerous other factors that can explain unusual driving patterns, high BAC, blood shot eyes, slurred speech, and other common indicators of drunk driving as well.

Key Fact #2: Even If You Were Driving Under the Influence, You StillMight Have Defenses Available.

Let’s say none of the above defenses apply in your case. You were driving drunk, and you know it. Even if this is the case, you could still have several defenses in your South Carolina DUI case.

As a South Carolina resident, you have fundamental rights. The police cannot stop you without reasonable suspicion, and they cannot arrest you without probable cause. The police also cannot question you in custody without reading your Miranda rights. If the police violated any of your rights during your traffic stop or after your arrest, you may be able to use this to avoid a DUI conviction.

Key Fact #3: In South Carolina, DUIs Carry Administrative and Criminal Penalties.

As we mentioned above, DUIs carry two types of penalties in South Carolina: administrative and criminal. Administrative penalties are imposed by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and include driver’s license suspension, financial penalties, and mandatory alcohol counseling. If you are convicted at trial, you can face additional fines and up to 30 days in jail for a first-time offense.

Key Fact #4: Your BAC Isn’t the Only Evidence Against You.

You got pulled over, you took the breathalyzer test, and you blew below the legal limit (which is 0.08 percent for adults in South Carolina). But, you were still charged with DUI. Or, maybe you are convinced that the breathalyzer test wasn’t administered properly. Does this mean it is case closed?

Unfortunately, not. While breathalyzer test results are a key piece of evidence in many South Carolina DUI cases, they are by no means the only source of evidence available to the prosecution. From the arresting officer’s observations (or dash cam video) to your performance on the field sobriety tests, there are various other types of evidence that can be used to prove that you were driving drunk. Additionally, while driving with a BAC of 0.08 or above is considered DUI per se, you do not have to be above the legal limit in order to be guilty of DUI.

Key Fact #5: Mistakes Can Be Incredibly Costly.

When dealing with a DUI charge, mistakes can be incredibly costly. In some cases, mistakes can not only significantly reduce the chances of asserting a successful defense, but they can even increase the penalties that are on the table (i.e. if you get arrested for DUI again while your case is pending). As a defendant in the South Carolina criminal justice system, it is critical that you have a clear understanding of the mistakes you need to avoid.

Key Fact #6: You Could Be Facing Charges in Addition to Your DUI.

In addition to facing a DUI charge, many individuals who are pulled over for drunk driving in South Carolina will face additional charges as well. For example, if you refused the breath test (or if the arresting officer thought you refused the breath test), you could be charged with an implied consent violation. South Carolina also has open container laws that impose fines and up to 30 days of jail time for first-time offenders.

Key Fact #7: You Need a Lawyer.

If you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, you need a DUI lawyer. You need to protect yourself by all means available, and this means hiring a lawyer who can use his or her experience to defend you effectively. Read our tips for choosing a DUI defense attorney: How to Find a Lawyer for DUI Charges in SC.

Schedule Free Consultation with a DUI Attorney in Rock Hill, SC

Were you charged with DUI during the holidays? Take our DUI attorney free consultation in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Call our lawyer at 803-328-8822 or request an initial consultation online now.

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