When you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina, there are defenses that work, and there are “defenses” that don’t. While the defenses you have available depend on the specific facts of your case, there are mistakes that can jeopardize your case regardless of the circumstances involved.
With this in mind, if you have been charged with driving under the influence in South Carolina, you need to make sure you are making smart decisions. You need to assert the defenses you have available, and you need to avoid saying things that could land you in jail.
10 “Defenses” That Can Lead to a DUI Conviction in South Carolina
What are the mistakes you need to avoid? Here are 10 common “defenses” that can lead to a DUI conviction in South Carolina:
1. You Didn’t Realize You Were Too Drunk to Drive
Under South Carolina law, driving under the influence (DUI) is a “strict liability” offense. This means that it doesn’t matter whether you realized you were too drunk to drive. Even if you didn’t mean to break the law, driving drunk is still a criminal act. By saying, “I didn’t realize I was too drunk to drive,” you are effectively admitting to DUI, and the prosecution will use your words against you.
2. You Only Had One Drink
In South Carolina, it doesn’t matter how much you had to drink. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or above, or if your “faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired,” you are not allowed to drive. So, regardless of whether or not it is true that you only had one drink, the simple fact is that it doesn’t matter. If prosecutors have admissible evidence of your BAC or of your impaired state, you can face a DUI conviction under South Carolina law.
3. You Were Only a Little Buzzed
Buzzed driving is drunk driving. If you admit to being buzzed behind the wheel, this too is effectively an admission to DUI. One of the problems with trying to justify your decision to drive is that alcohol impairs your decision-making capacity. If you admit to knowing you were buzzed, the judge will say that this means you weren’t capable of making an informed decision—and this means that you shouldn’t have put yourself behind the wheel.
4. You Had to Drive to Get Home
While “necessity” can be a valid defense in some cases, not having a ride home does not justify the decision to drive drunk. From Uber and Lyft to taxis and public transportation, these days there are plenty of ways to get where you need to go—and the judge knows it. Even if your designated driver left you at the bar, this is not an excuse for driving while intoxicated.
5. You Thought You Waited Long Enough for Your BAC to Go Down
Most of us are familiar with the general rule that the liver can process about one standard drink per hour. But, there are many factors that can affect how quickly your body absorbs alcohol, and just because someone else can drive after a few hours, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can do so safely. Even if you tried to do the right thing and wait until your BAC went down, if you didn’t wait long enough, you can still be found guilty of DUI.
6. You Were Still Driving Safely Even Though Your BAC was High
South Carolina’s DUI law establishes two ways prosecutors can prove your guilt. Prosecutors can prove that your ability to drive was “materially and appreciably impaired,” or they can prove that your BAC was 0.08% or above. They do not need to prove both. So, even if you were capable of driving safely while your BAC was above the legal limit, the fact that your BAC was above the legal limit means you are guilty of DUI.
7. The Police Stopped You For Speeding (Not for Driving Under the Influence)
When you are facing a DUI charge, it doesn’t matter why the police pulled you over (unless they pulled you over for an illegal reason, such as based on your race or color). If the police stopped you for speeding and then discovered that you appeared to be intoxicated, they had the ability—and the responsibility—to test you for DUI.
8. The Police Didn’t Read Your Rights
While the police must read your Mirada rights prior to conducting custodial interrogation, they do not have to read your rights before your arrest. Additionally, under no circumstances are the police required to explain your right to refuse the field sobriety tests. Failure to read your rights can serve as a defense in some cases, but only under certain circumstances, and only if you know how to raise this defense effectively.
9. You Weren’t Driving When the Police Approached Your Vehicle
What if you were already stopped on the side of the road? The police didn’t see you driving, so does this mean that your DUI arrest was invalid?
There are plenty of ways the prosecution can prove you were driving drunk even if the police didn’t pull you over. From traffic camera footage to eyewitness statements (or your own statements) and the simple fact that there was no way to get where you were without driving, prosecutors may be able to use various forms of evidence to secure a DUI conviction.
10. You’re Sorry and You Won’t Do It Again
Finally, when facing a DUI charge, the fact that you are sorry doesn’t matter. South Carolina judges don’t go easy on DUI defendants, and you can’t avoid a conviction simply by showing remorse. Instead, you need to assert the real DUI defenses you have available, and you need to take a strategic approach focused on avoiding mistakes and securing the best outcome possible.
Discuss Your Case with a Rock Hill, SC DUI Defense Lawyer in Confidence
Are you facing a DUI charge in South Carolina? If so, we encourage you to contact us for more information. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Rock Hill, SC DUI defense lawyer, call 803-328-8822 or tell us how we can reach you online now.