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.
When you get pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) in South Carolina, you are required by law to take a breath test. This is based on Section 56-5-2950 of the South Carolina Code, also known as the state’s “implied consent” law.
What is South Carolina’s Implied Consent Law?
Lots of states have implied consent laws. Under these laws, by driving on the state’s public roads, you automatically consent to have your breath sample taken if you get pulled over for DUI. However, not only must you provide a breath sample, but, if you refuse to do so, you can lose your driver’s license immediately—regardless of whether you were driving under the influence.
South Carolina’s implied consent law states, in part:
“A person who drives a motor vehicle in this State is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of the person’s breath, blood, or urine to determine the presence of alcohol, drugs, or the combination of alcohol and drugs, if arrested for an offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs. . . . At the direction of the arresting officer, the person first must be offered a breath test to determine the person’s alcohol concentration.”
As you can see, South Carolina’s implied consent law technically requires you to submit to a “chemical test” performed by taking a breath, blood, or urine sample. However, your arresting officer must offer a breath test first. As a practical matter, blood and urine tests are rare—the police cannot force you to provide a sample; if you refuse, you will be charged with an implied consent violation.
What are the Consequences of Violating South Carolina’s Implied Consent Law?
Violating South Carolina’s implied consent law has two primary consequences. First, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least six months unless you enroll in South Carolina’s Ignition Interlock Device Program. You will also have to enroll in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. This “administrative” driver’s license suspension happens automatically, and, to avoid it, you must either request a hearing before the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings at the South Carolina DMV or apply for a “temporary alcohol license” within 30 days.
Second, your refusal to submit to a breath test “may be used against [you] in court.” This means that during your DUI case, the prosecutor’s office can point out that you refused the breath test as evidence that you knew you were driving under the influence. While you can dispute that this was the case, the presumption that you knew you were driving drunk can be difficult to overcome in many cases.
What are Possible Defenses to Violations of South Carolina’s Implied Consent Law?
While South Carolina’s implied consent law is strict, several possible defenses to alleged implied consent violations exist. Many of these defenses arise from the legal requirements for lawfully administering a chemical test during or after a DUI traffic stop. For example, some of the main requirements include:
“A breath test must be administered at the direction of a law enforcement officer who has arrested a person for driving a motor vehicle in this State while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs.”
“A breath sample taken for testing must be collected within two hours of the arrest. Any additional tests to collect other samples must be collected within three hours of the arrest.”
“The breath test must be administered by a person trained and certified by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, pursuant to SLED policies.”
“Before the breath test is administered, an eight one-hundredths of one percent simulator test must be performed, and the result must reflect a reading between 0.076 percent and 0.084 percent.”
“No tests may be administered or samples obtained unless, upon activation of the video recording equipment and prior to the commencement of the testing procedure, the person has been given a written copy of and verbally informed [of the law].”
This last requirement, in particular, will provide a defense to an alleged implied consent violation in many cases. In order for South Carolina’s implied consent law to apply, the arresting officer must inform you of various legal provisions prior to administering the breath test—and he or she must do so on camera. If there is no video evidence that you were provided with all required information, this could provide a strong defense to your South Carolina implied consent charge:
You do not have to give a breath sample, but you will be charged with an implied consent violation if you do.
If you refuse the breath test, your driver’s license will be suspended for six months (or you will have to enroll in South Carolina’s Ignition Interlock Device Program).
You have the right to have your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) independently tested at your own expense.
You have the right to request a hearing within 30 days of receiving a “notice of suspension” of your driver’s license.
If you do not request a hearing or your administrative driver’s license suspension is upheld, you will be required to enroll in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.
What Should I Do if I Have Been Charged with an Implied Consent Violation in South Carolina?
What should you do if you have been charged with an implied consent violation in South Carolina? The most important thing you can do is to speak with a local DUI defense lawyer promptly. You will need to request a hearing in order to try to protect your driver’s license (if it is not already too late), and you will need to begin working on your DUI defense strategy as well.
Discuss Your South Carolina DUI Case in Confidence
Are you facing implied consent and DUI charges in South Carolina? If so, we encourage you to contact us about your case right away. To speak with one of our Rock Hill, SC DUI defense lawyers confidently, call 803-328-8822 or get in touch online now.
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 aDUI 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 penaltiesinclude 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 andcollateral 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 lawdefines “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 orrequest an appointment online now.
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 aDUI 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 ofSouth 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 yourconstitutional 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 arethe 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 todefend 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 orrequest an appointment online today.
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 forDUI, 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 ofreasonable 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 aplea bargain ordiversionary 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 ortell us how we can reach you online now.
If you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, you need to make smart decisions about your defense strategy. While there are a variety of potential defenses to a DUI charge, not all defenses are available in all cases. Additionally, even if you have multiple defenses available, it could make sense to focus on a single defense that will resonate with the prosecutor, judge, or jury.
This raises a key question: What is the best defense to aDUI in South Carolina? If you are going to focus on one strategy to prevent the government from meeting its burden of proof, which strategy should you use?
The Best Defense to a DUI Depends on the Circumstances At Hand
While it would be nice if there was one defense that worked in all DUI cases, this simply isn’t realistic. In DUI cases, the facts matter, and the defenses you have available will depend heavily on the facts of your case. As a result, there is not one single DUI defense that is “the best” in all scenarios.
Instead, there are several relevant considerations.
For example, one key factor to keep in mind is that the government has two ways to prove a DUI charge in South Carolina. Under South Carolina’s DUI laws, prosecutors can secure a conviction by proving that either: (i) your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was above the legal limit; or, (ii) your “faculties to drive a motor vehicle [were] materially and appreciably impaired.” They do not need to prove both.
This means that even if you are able to successfullychallenge your BAC reading (assuming you took the breath test), you could still be convicted based on other evidence of impairment. Likewise, even if there is no evidence that your faculties were impaired, if your BAC was 0.08 percent or above (if you’re 21 or older), this is enough for prosecutors to seek—and win—a guilty verdict in court.
The Best Defenses Are Those that Protect You Completely
With this in mind, one way to approach the question of, “Which DUI defense is best?” is to focus on defenses that protect you completely. These are defenses that protect you regardless of your BAC and regardless of whether the government has any other evidence of impairment. Some examples of these types of defenses include:
1. The Police Stopped You Illegally
To conduct a legal traffic stop, the police must have “reasonable suspicion” that you are guilty of a crime or traffic violation. This protection exists under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. The “reasonable suspicion” requirement prohibits the police from stopping you without cause—and it also prohibits the police from stopping you based on your color, race, sex, or any other personal trait.
If the police stop you without reasonable suspicion, then all of the evidence obtained following your traffic stop was obtained unconstitutionally. This means that you have the right to have this evidence excluded (or “suppressed”) from your DUI case. If prosecutors do not have any evidence that they can use, then they cannot prove that you are guilty of DUI.
2. You Were Denied Your Right to an Attorney
You may also be able to suppress the government’s evidence against you if the police denied your right to an attorney. If you requested to speak with an attorney during your DUI stop, the police may have been required to grant your request. If the police were required to grant your request and failed to do so, this could render all of the evidence obtained after your request inadmissible in court.
3. You Weren’t Driving
A third, and very different, type of defense that can protect you regardless of your BAC and your level of impairment is the defense that you weren’t driving. South Carolina’s DUI lawspecifically states that it is illegal “to drive a motor vehicle” while intoxicated or impaired. So, if you weren’t driving, then it doesn’t matter how much you had to drink.
In some states, you can be convicted of DUI if you are in the driver’s seat with the key. Some states even allow for conviction if you are passed out in the driver’s seat while parked. But, in South Carolina, this is not the case. South Carolina’s DUI law specifically requires you to be “driving,” and the courts have interpreted this as meaning that your vehicle must be in motion.
How Not to Defend Against a DUI Charge in South Carolina
While these defenses can help you avoid a DUI conviction completely, there are also “defenses” that completely do not work. When facing a DUI charge, you need to be careful to avoid relying on these“defenses” that don’t actually protect you.
You also need to avoid the mistake of only defending against half of the government’s case. As we discussed above, prosecutors in South Carolina can secure a DUI conviction based on a high BAC or evidence of impairment. If you defend against one of these but not the other, you can still get convicted of DUI.
Your Next Steps When Facing a DUI in South Carolina
Given everything we’ve discussed, what are your next steps if you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina? At this point, the best thing you can do is discuss your case with an experienced defense lawyer. You need to know what defenses you have available, and you need to make an informed decision about which defense (or defenses) you assert. Making this decision requires insights that only come with years of experience handlingplea negotiations and fighting DUI charges in court.
Discuss Your DUI Case with Attorney Michael L. Brown, Jr.
Attorney Michael L. Brown, Jr. has years of experience defending clients against DUI charges in Rock Hill, SC. If you are facing a DUI charge, he can help protect you. To discuss your case with Mr. Brown in a free and confidential consultation, call 803-328-8822 ortell us how we can reach you online now.