DUI is a serious crime in the State of South Carolina. Recently, the state has enacted new and tougher laws to counter drunk driving and stepped up their enforcement efforts. There are more troopers on the road and therefore more chances that anyone can be stopped for alleged drunk driving. The criminal penalties for operating a vehicle while impaired are harsh can include:
- Loss and/or suspension of your drivers license
- Mandatory attendance at ADSAP (Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program)
- Large and imposing fines and fees
- Jail time
- Community Service
- Probation and Restitution
- Lifelong Criminal Record
- Requirement of special and expensive SR-22 insurance
- License Programs, including ignition interlock devices and restrictive licenses
- Loss of job, educational scholarships and future opportunities due to your criminal record
The loss of your driver’s license and the resulting criminal record can affect your life in many ways, including making it difficult or impossible to drive to work, pick up your kids from school, or take your significant other out for a special occasion. In South Carolina, the criminal record can stay with you for life and make it hard for you to pass background checks and get the job or opportunity that you want. The consequences of a DUI conviction are enormous and can have huge financial costs as well.
Implied Consent Hearing
If during your arrest, you refused to take the breathalyzer test, or if your BAC exceeds .15, you will lose your driver’s license and the DMV will impose an automatic 6 month suspension period. You may request an implied consent hearing (also called a license suspension hearing or administrative hearing). We will represent you at the implied consent hearing, fight your license suspension, ask for reinstatement of your license and handle your case at trial if required.
“Driving” is required to be guilty of Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
In order to be found guilty of a DUI, the driver must be actually seen driving the vehicle. This seems like an obvious requirement but it is often overlooked in court cases. The requirement of driving or operating implies that the driver must have some sort of actual control or command of the vehicle. Guilt or innocence may hang on whether the defendant was actually “driving” in a particular circumstance. There are several questions which could be asked, for example:
What if he or she was just sitting behind the wheel of the vehicle with the vehicle turned off?
What if the person was standing outside the vehicle when the officer approached?
What if the defendant was asleep in the car?
What if the keys were in the person’s pocket or purse and not in the ignition?
What if that car was out of gas and could not be restarted?
What if it was being towed?
What if two or more people were in the car at the side of the road and everyone was asleep, using their phone or simply talking to each other?
Cars, trucks and vans are considered to be vehicles for drunk driving law purposes. However, people have been convicted of drunk driving while operating mopeds, motorboats, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, electric wheelchairs, golf carts, bicycles and ATVs. The type and classification of vehicles is determined by state statute.
One way prosecutors prove driver intoxication is through scientific testing of the amount of alcohol in the body, usually by analyzing the breath or blood. These tests are usually administered by machines, such as the Breathalyzer®. In every state, a person with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08 is considered legally intoxicated.
Implied-consent laws in South Carolina create the legal presumption that if a person takes advantage of the privilege of driving, he or she automatically consents to state-administered chemical testing to determine his or her BAC. If a driver refuses to take a chemical-alcohol test, his or her driver’s license may be revoked or suspended.
If a person has a BAC test result that is over the legal limit, this is usually presumed to be sufficient proof of intoxication. However, a person may challenge the conclusiveness of the results by showing irregularities in the test administration procedure or problems with the test equipment. As your lawyers, we may advise retesting of your breath sample tubes. We may also seek to obtain exclusion of the original breath test results from the case or even request a dismissal of the case.
There are other types of evidence used by prosecuting attorneys to show intoxication including drivers’ statements, witness and police observations of behavior and driving patterns and circumstantial evidence. One example of possibly relevant circumstantial evidence is that a person, before driving, spent the afternoon at an event where drinking games were played or went to a bar and had a few drinks while talking with friends.
The state trooper or police officers may also gather important evidence of intoxication by administering standard field sobriety tests (FSTs) at the scenes of traffic stops. Common field sobriety tests include:
- One-legged stand
- Finger-to-nose test
- Walk-and-turn test, walking a straight line
- Horizontal-gaze-nystagamus test
- Picking up coins
- Counting backwards
- Throwing or catching a ball
- Reciting the alphabet
In South Carolina, your case could depend on whether or not the prosecution can prove that you were driving a vehicle at the time or your arrest or actually impaired by not being able to perform well on field sobriety tests. In criminal cases, the prosecution must prove a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt a defendant does not have to prove him or herself innocent.
Real Legal Defense for DUI and Traffic Tickets
In addition to DUI and felony DUI cases, we have handled thousands of cases for other traffic tickets, including but not limited to:
- Driving Under Suspension (DUS)
- Driving Under Alcohol Concentration (DUAC)
- Driving Without A License
- Reckless driving
- Possession of Marijuana
- Public Intoxication (Public Drunk)
- No Proof of Insurance
- No Proof of Drivers License
- Failing to give a proper signal
- Failure to Stop
- Failure to Yield Right of Way
Call or Come By Our Offices
If you have questions regarding DUI / DUS/ DWI charges and traffic violations, contact our law offices. We speak English, Spanish and Portuguese in the office and We have one main office and two satellite offices to serve you in South Carolina.
It is important that you have a skilled and aggressive lawyer on your side to defend you. The lawyer you choose can make all of the difference in whether or not your DUI charge or traffic ticket becomes a conviction or just an unfortunate incident from the past. At The Woods Law Firm we have been defending people who have been charged with DUS and traffic tickets for nearly 15 years and we have handled cases in every county in the state. We have the knowledge and experience to handle your case with speed and efficiency. Let us handle your troubles so you can get back to your life. If you would like to speak with an attorney by phone, call us today toll-free for immediate help. At the Woods Law Firm, help is just a heartbeat away.
Call Us Toll-Free at (877) 728-1798 !
“The client is responsible for fines, fees and expenses in addition to the lawyer’s fee. In personal injury cases, the fee will be a percentage of the recovery and that percentage will be computed before deducting the expenses in the case.”
By Freddy Woods