Helping Columbia Find Legal Solutions Since 1999
Call Today for a free Consultation 803-407-4140
Legal representation for Bankruptcy and Debt, Traffic Violations and tickets, and Uncontested Divorce

Honest, Committed Representation

LAW FIRM, LLC

Articles / BLOG

DUI Could Mean Prison Time

Posted on April 26, 2018 at 1:50 PM

DUI Could Mean Prison Time

A cause of concentration loss is being under the influence of a substance, such as drugs or alcohol. With booze being the most common source of distracted driving, let’s look at those laws. In South Carolina, it will come down to severity and previous offences, but a first offence offers a maximum six months jail time. If your blood alcohol content is over 0.15% or it is a second offence, then there is an indefinite sentence available.



How To Stay Focused and Avoid Accidents

Avoiding distracted driving starts with awareness. By nature, those who are distracted are slow to realize so. Driving can be boring and the mind wanders. Help yourself concentrate by keeping your phone switched off while driving. You should also stay hydrated and eat beforehand so that your brain can more easily retain focus. Be smart and responsible by pulling over before engaging in any activity that could be dangerous.


Since distracted driving causes so many injuries and fatalities, it should be your main concern after passing your test. Failing to abide by distracted driving laws could mean loss of licence, fines or jail time. When driving, focus on the task in hand and you’ll avoid any legal ramifications.

Driving While Distracted

Posted on April 26, 2018 at 1:45 PM

What Are the Legal Ramifications of Driving While Distracted?



South Carolina has the third worst drivers of any state, with two thirds of all accidents involving the use of cell phones. However, this isn’t the only cause of distraction for drivers. Eating, doing hair or makeup, and chatting to passengers can divert a driver’s attention at a crucial moment. When traveling at speed, just a few seconds of lack of attention on the road can be potentially deadly. With South Carolina having more fatalities per 1000 miles than any other state, there are strict laws against distracted driving in place. Do you know the legal consequences of your driving habits? Read on to find out more.



Fines for Texting


Some research suggests that smartphones have lowered a human’s attention span to less than that of a goldfish. Checking for texts, notifications, emails and alerts has become addictive for many people. If you’re on an hour long road trip, this can feel like a long time to not look at your phone. However, it could land you in serious legal trouble.  There is no statewide ban on texting and driving in South Carolina, but most cities, including Columbia have their own laws. If you are caught using a cellphone while at the wheel then you will likely face a fine. This will be $100 for first time offenders and up to $300 for third timers, plus legal costs.

Popular South Carolina Legislator Faces DUI Charges

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 4:20 PM

Popular South Carolina Legislator Faces DUI Charges

 

It is commonly known that a DUI charge can result in devastating consequences. Last fall, a well-known state legislator was charged with DUI after returning home from a football game.

 

The legislator refused a Breathalyzer test when officers stopped him several hours after the game. He was on his way to Charlotte, North Carolina, to visit family.

 

Eventually submitting to a field sobriety test, the man was held for several hours. He was finally released after paying a bond of nearly $1,000.

 

His license was suspended for six months for refusing the Breathalyzer test. He was only allowed the use of a provisional license for going to and from work.


He has requested a jury trial to dispute the charges. With no prior criminal record, he says his license has only been suspended in the past for not paying traffic tickets, which he later paid.

Modifications To South Carolina DUI Laws Result In Enhanced Penalties


DUI laws in South Carolina were always serious, but in the past few years, DUI penalties have become significantly more severe.

 

New DUI laws went into effect in 2009. The new laws and penalties apply to both in-state and out-of-state residents.

 

The new laws impose mandatory minimum sentences for even first-time offenders. A driver found with a blood alcohol content (BAC) between the legal limit of .08 percent and .09 percent automatically receives a $400 fine and potentially faces up to 30 days in jail.


A higher BAC means substantially higher penalties. For example, a first-time offender with a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher may spend up to two months in jail and pay a fine of $1,000.


Additionally, all drivers convicted of DUI are required to attend substance abuse counseling as part of their sentences. Responsibility for paying for this type of program, which can cost up to $2,500, falls on the driver.


The modifications also include greater felony DUI penalties. An impaired driver who causes "great bodily injury or death" to another can be charged with a felony DUI. Felony DUI penalties are especially harsh, with a driver facing potential prison time of 15 to 25 years. Fines may also reach as high as $25,000.


Finally, as demonstrated by the case above, refusal to submit to a Breathalyzer test results in an automatic six-month license suspension.


Being charged with DUI is an overall unpleasant experience. As the current penalties illustrate, even a first-time offender faces hefty fines, potential jail time and mandatory substance abuse treatment. The consequences may cause significant problems for years to come.


If you are charged with DUI, it is a good idea to retain an experienced traffic and DUI attorney with a thorough knowledge of criminal and traffic law. A skilled attorney understands the methods the government uses to prosecute DUIs and can use this understanding to craft an effective defense against the charge. The attorney can also protect your rights and work toward the best possible outcome for the case.

 

Communities Cracking Down On DUI

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 4:20 PM


Communities Cracking Down On DUI


Many South Carolina communities have struggled with budgetary problems during the most recent recession. Some essential services have been shut down or reduced because there is simply not enough money left to cover their costs. When new issues arise that need to be addressed, officials have to look in other places for additional revenues to help with these expenses.


In Lexington County, law enforcement officers had been concerned about the growing number of traffic fatalities. The Lexington County Sheriff's Department recently received a grant that will allow for an increased focus on motorists thought to be driving under the influence.


The extra funds will permit more officers to be on roadways looking for impaired drivers. This means more DUI checkpoints, as well as more overtime for officers engaging in these efforts. The county is also running a safety campaign that includes billboards warning motorists of the potential penalties for DUI.

 

With these extra patrols, it is expected that more individuals will be facing DUI charges. Penalties for these offenses often include the loss of a driver's license for at least six months, with significant costs before it will be reinstated. Additionally, drivers may face jail time if convicted.

 

Those with repeat offenses on their records will face even more severe penalties. More jail time is possible, and the period of time that a license will be suspended also will increase dramatically.

 

Some of these motorists will be required to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. These devices prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle if any alcohol is detected on the person's breath.


Being arrested on suspicion of DUI is an extremely serious matter. You need to know there are things you can do to protect yourself from the harsh consequences of a conviction. Discuss your claims with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help begin preparing a defense to these allegations.


Prosecutors will have significant resources at their disposal when pursuing these charges against you. Many of these arrests are videotaped, and this can be difficult evidence to overcome. You need someone who can review the police officers' actions to ensure that they followed proper procedures during your stop and subsequent arrest.


A conviction for DUI will change your entire life. It is important that you understand that you need to protect yourself during this process and that you have someone who is looking out for your best interests.

 

South Carolina's careless driving law moving through legislature

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 4:15 PM

South Carolina’s careless driving law moving through legislature


On behalf of Ray Lord at Lord Law Firm, LLC


With the meteoric rise in people texting while driving, especially among the young, South Carolina legislators are working on a law to address the problem as other states have done.

 

U.S. Department of Transportation leading the fight against texting while driving

 

Since 2009, the battle to stop texting while driving has led the U.S. Department of Transportation to launch campaigns to raise public awareness, hold distracted driving summits, and otherwise encourage states to adopt tougher laws.


A Pew Research Center study from 2011 revealed that young adults use texting more than any other group by far and prefer texting to talking. Cell phone users in the 18 to 24 age range on average exchange over a hundred messages a day or over 3,000 per month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2012 that young drivers had a higher rate of crash or near crash experiences than any other age group while using cell phones.


Proposed bill quickly outmoded


The South Carolina General Assembly has for years attempted to define and prohibit distracted or careless driving. Senate Bill 257 introduced in 2007 was intended to add a section prohibiting driving carelessly as a result of being distracted, and listed a number of distractions including reading, writing, grooming, and interacting with passengers, pets or unsecured cargo. The bill defined driving carelessly as "operating a vehicle without care and caution and without full regard for the safety of persons or property."

 

The 2007 bill also listed as distractions the use of computers, wireless telephones and personal communication technologies. These definitions seem strange or outmoded to us even seven years later, considering the speed at which digital and wireless technology has become omnipresent. Placing calls with a cellphone still rivaled texting as the main function of cellphones back in 2007, and smart phones were not ubiquitous as they are today.


New bills address texting while driving

 

With the rise in accidents and fatalities due to texting while driving in recent years, many state legislatures have addressed this new distraction with new laws. The South Carolina House or Representatives introduced a new bill last year to add a law that redefines careless driving to include texting while driving.

 

The bill also would amend the reckless driving law to prohibit driving in an inattentive or distracted manner including texting while driving which results in bodily injury. The new proposed law also says that two points must be assessed against the driving record for persons convicted of careless driving; the 2007 bill did not assess points.


Alternative penalties for distracted driving seen as revenue generators


Charges of careless driving have become more prevalent in towns and cities in the last few decades, as they tacked on fees and fines to pay for public safety and other programs. Several of South Carolina's counties have ordinances that allow careless driving tickets as an alternative to state traffic violations.

 

However, these ordinances do not have a uniform definition of careless driving; one merely makes it unlawful to operate a motor vehicle "in a careless manner in disregard of the safety of persons or property." A state law would clarify the definitions and make charges of distracted driving more uniform for all counties, and not just serve to generate revenue.


Whether you are just passing through or are a South Carolina resident, you may be stopped and charged with careless or reckless driving and face having points placed on your license or higher insurance costs. It is imperative to contact an experienced traffic law attorney and find out what your options are to fight the charges.


South Carolina Breathalyzer devices may produce false readings

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 4:15 PM

South Carolina Breathalyzer devices may produce false readings


Breathalyzer devices are used to determine a driver’s blood alcohol concentration; however, many studies show that their results may not always be accurate.


Being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving in South Carolina can be an overwhelming experience. During these situations, law enforcement officers often ask the driver to submit to a Breathalyzer test, which is used to determine the amount of alcohol an individual has in their blood. If the Breathalyzer device shows that the driver has a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or higher, they can be arrested on DUI charges, according to the South Carolina Judicial Department. However, many believe that Breathalyzer devices are not always an accurate way to measure a person's blood alcohol content.

Measuring blood alcohol concentration levels


While Breathalyzer devices function to measure the BAC level of a driver, they never actually measure a driver's blood at all, according to the National Motorists Association. Motorists are asked to breathe into a tube that is attached to the device. Their breath is then analyzed for the presence of ethyl alcohol. The Breathalyzer device converts the subject's breath alcohol content to a blood alcohol content level.

 

A seasoned professor at the State University of New York at Potsdam reports that a common problem associated with Breathalyzer devices is that they measure much more than simply the amount of alcohol on a person's breath. The methyl group structure can be found in a variety of substances, including acetone, certain bread products and paint.

 

Diabetics and dieters have been shown to have extremely high acetone levels in their breath, which can cause an inaccurate Breathalyzer reading, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Numerous studies show that the prevalence of gasoline, tobacco smoke, moisture and cleaning fluids in the environment may also affect a person's breath alcohol content.

Evaluating Breathalyzer results


A credible study performed by LaBianca, Simpson, Thompson et.al, shows that the blood alcohol content level measured by a Breathalyzer device does not always accurately represent a person's actual blood alcohol concentration. The researchers found a 50 percent margin of error after comparing the blood alcohol content level given by a Breathalyzer device to the BAC level obtained directly from a blood sample.

 

With these findings, a Breathalyzer reading of 0.1 percent, which is enough to arrest and possibly convict a person with a DUI, represents an actual blood alcohol measurement of anywhere between 0.05 and 0.15 percent. This misinterpretation may be responsible for wrongful DUI convictions.

Teaming up with an attorney

 

A DUI conviction can lead to substantial fines, license suspension and jail-time. People with a DUI conviction on their record may have difficulties finding employment in certain industries, obtaining a professional license and securing a driver's license. People who are battling DUI charges should carefully consider teaming up with a DUI attorney who has a thorough knowledge of South Carolina's DUI laws.


Keywords: DUI, arrest, field test, Breathalyzer

 

Proposed bill may make it harder to defend against DUI charges

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 4:10 PM

Proposed bill may make it harder to defend against DUI charges

 

On behalf of Ray Lord at Lord Law Firm, LLC


Proposed amendment to video law would remove important defense option

 

South Carolina may soon make it more difficult to defend against a charge of DUI if a proposed bill is passed into law, according to the State. The proposal would make it harder to throw out a DUI case if video recording of the traffic stop resulting in the charge is incomplete in any way. Under current law, video recordings of DUI stops must be complete and clear or else they can result in the case being thrown out by a judge. The proposed changes would likely result in a greater reliance on field sobriety and breathalyzer tests when prosecutors seek a conviction.

 

Criticism of current law

 

The current law had been criticized by a NBC Charlotte report that claimed South Carolina's current DUI law was too narrowly worded. According to the report, a DUI case may be tossed if the video recording of the event does not capture the full traffic stop. Current law requires law enforcement to activate their dashboard video recorders from the time they turn on their blue lights until the accused person's Miranda Rights have been read to them.

 

Because the law requires the full roadside sobriety test to be recorded, any problems with that recording make a conviction less likely. For example, if a video does not capture a person's feet or face, does not capture audio, is recorded in the rain, or runs out of tape during the traffic stop, then the defense can argue that the recording is incomplete.

 

Proposed changes


The proposal to change the law, H.3441 and S.178 in the House and Senate respectively, would no longer require a video recording to be made of a roadside traffic stop. Instead, police would merely be required to make such recordings when possible, but a judge would no longer be able to throw out a DUI case based on an incomplete recording alone.


The change, if passed, would likely mean courts would rely more on field sobriety and breathalyzer tests when trying DUI cases. While proponents of the changes say it will help bring down DUI accident rates, it is important to note that field sobriety and breathalyzer tests themselves are not perfect. Such methods are prone to human and technical error and may be further influenced by other factors, such as medical conditions and even the weather. While the current DUI video law may seem too narrow to some, it is ultimately designed to ensure that accused people's rights are upheld during the criminal justice process.


Defending against traffic violations

 

Being charged and convicted of a DUI can result in serious restrictions on one's livelihood and may make it difficult to get back behind the wheel of a car. For many people, such restrictions, in addition to potential fines and jail time, can make it difficult to earn a living.

 

Defending against DUI and other traffic violations requires the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A qualified attorney can offer defendants peace of mind and invaluable legal support when faced with these difficult charges.

 

State representative has one of two DUI charges dropped

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 4:10 PM

State representative has one of two DUI charges dropped


South Carolina Rep. Ted Vick has had one DUI charge dropped against him, but he still faces another one dating back to a 2012 drunk driving arrest.

 

According to The State, one of the two drunk driving charges against South Carolina state Rep. Ted Vick has been dropped. The public official, who is from Chesterfield, was arrested for driving under the influence last year when police officers noticed him stumbling to his vehicle in the parking garage under the Statehouse in Columbia. However, Vick's attorney argued that the representative was stumbling due to having a rock in his shoe rather than intoxication.

 

A judge has dropped the charge against Vick because he was not on video when a law enforcement officer read him his Miranda rights. Vick is, however, still facing DUI charges after an incident in 2012 in which he was pulled over for speeding. Officers reportedly smelled alcohol when they approached the car and went on to arrest him.


DUI penalties are the same for all

 

Rep. Vick's legal issues demonstrate that being pulled over and arrested for DUI can happen to anyone, including high-ranking public officials. Although some might believe that members of the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate are immune from the risks of drunk driving and certain other criminal matters, that's not the case at all.


In South Carolina, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol to the point that the motorist's "faculties" to operate the vehicle are "materially and appreciably impaired." State law calls for anyone driving with a blood alcohol content level above .08 percent to be arrested and charged with DUI, although individuals with BAC levels below that amount could also face charges if officers believe they were driving while impaired.

 

According to state statutes, individuals facing DUI charges for the first time may be required to spend two to 90 days in jail and pay fines between $400 and $1,000, in addition to a six-month driver's license suspension. If it is a second offense, courts may sentence individuals convicted of DUI to up to three years in jail, issue fines up to $6,500 and require up to a one-year license suspension. Individuals will also likely have to install ignition interlock devices, requiring them to register a legal BAC before they can start their vehicles.

 

The penalties for a third-offense DUI are even greater, including 60 days to five years incarceration, fines between $3,800 and $10,000 and a suspended license for two years, along with a mandatory ignition interlock device. If it is a fourth drunk driving conviction, the person convicted may have to spend up to seven years in prison, pay $10,000 in fines and have their driving privileges permanently revoked.


If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in South Carolina, it is important to work with a knowledgeable legal professional to protect your rights and seek reduced or dropped charges. Learn more by working with a skilled DUI defense attorney in Irmo.


Proposed bill may make it harder to defend against DUI charges

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 4:05 PM


Proposed bill may make it harder to defend against DUI charges


On behalf of Ray Lord at Lord Law Firm, LLC


Proposed amendment to video law would remove important defense option


South Carolina may soon make it more difficult to defend against a charge of DUI if a proposed bill is passed into law, according to the State. The proposal would make it harder to throw out a DUI case if video recording of the traffic stop resulting in the charge is incomplete in any way. Under current law, video recordings of DUI stops must be complete and clear or else they can result in the case being thrown out by a judge. The proposed changes would likely result in a greater reliance on field sobriety and breathalyzer tests when prosecutors seek a conviction.


Criticism of current law


The current law had been criticized by a NBC Charlotte report that claimed South Carolina's current DUI law was too narrowly worded. According to the report, a DUI case may be tossed if the video recording of the event does not capture the full traffic stop. Current law requires law enforcement to activate their dashboard video recorders from the time they turn on their blue lights until the accused person's Miranda Rights have been read to them.

 

Because the law requires the full roadside sobriety test to be recorded, any problems with that recording make a conviction less likely. For example, if a video does not capture a person's feet or face, does not capture audio, is recorded in the rain, or runs out of tape during the traffic stop, then the defense can argue that the recording is incomplete.


Proposed changes


The proposal to change the law, H.3441 and S.178 in the House and Senate respectively, would no longer require a video recording to be made of a roadside traffic stop. Instead, police would merely be required to make such recordings when possible, but a judge would no longer be able to throw out a DUI case based on an incomplete recording alone.


The change, if passed, would likely mean courts would rely more on field sobriety and breathalyzer tests when trying DUI cases. While proponents of the changes say it will help bring down DUI accident rates, it is important to note that field sobriety and breathalyzer tests themselves are not perfect. Such methods are prone to human and technical error and may be further influenced by other factors, such as medical conditions and even the weather. While the current DUI video law may seem too narrow to some, it is ultimately designed to ensure that accused people's rights are upheld during the criminal justice process.

 

Defending against traffic violations


Being charged and convicted of a DUI can result in serious restrictions on one's livelihood and may make it difficult to get back behind the wheel of a car. For many people, such restrictions, in addition to potential fines and jail time, can make it difficult to earn a living.

 

Defending against DUI and other traffic violations requires the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A qualified attorney can offer defendants peace of mind and invaluable legal support when faced with these difficult charges.

 

Day-after DUI charges may affect many South Carolina drivers

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 4:00 PM

‘Day-after DUI’ charges may affect many South Carolina drivers


People who metabolize alcohol slowly may end up facing charges of driving under the influence the morning after drinking.


Most people in Irmo appreciate the potential legal consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol. As a result, they may take various precautions to avoid driving after they have been drinking. Unfortunately, these efforts may not always prevent DUI charges, as some drivers may still be legally intoxicated the day after drinking.


Lingering intoxication


Many people assume that a night of rest after drinking will give the body enough time to metabolize any remaining alcohol. However, this isn't always the case. Problematically, according to ABC News, many people may not even recognize that they are still intoxicated the day after drinking. Feelings of drowsiness or grogginess may prevent a person from accurately assessing his or her sobriety.


Unfortunately, people who drive while their bodies are processing alcohol from the day or night before can still face DUI charges. WXYZ News tells the story of one woman, whose DUI arrest involved the following circumstances:


  • The woman went out and had about six drinks over a two-hour period.
  • The woman rode home with a designated driver, slept for six hours and then got up to drive to work.
  • The woman was pulled over, and Breathalyzer testing indicated that her blood alcohol concentration was over the legal limit.


According to experts, the woman's BAC would have reached a level of about .22 while she was drinking. Based on average rates of alcohol metabolization, the woman's BAC would only have dropped about .12 while she rested. Consequently, when the woman was pulled over, her BAC was measured at .10.


In an interview, the woman stated that she was shocked that her BAC was over the legal limit after a night of sleep. Unfortunately, many other people may similarly misunderstand the risks of driving the morning after drinking.


At-risk drivers


Almost any driver may be vulnerable to DUI charges the day after drinking. The amount of alcohol consumed, along with a person's ability to metabolize alcohol, can affect how long the body needs to eliminate the substance. However, next-day DUIs may especially be a risk for women and older drivers.


As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains, men and women process alcohol distinctly due to differences in body chemistry. Women absorb more alcohol than men, resulting in a higher BAC. Women also need more time to metabolize alcohol. Together, these factors compound the risk of women receiving DUI charges long after they have stopped drinking.

 

Older adults may be vulnerable to these same issues, according to the National Institutes of Health. When drinking, older adults often reach higher BAC levels because they generally have less water in their blood to dilute out the alcohol. These adults also require more time to metabolize alcohol. Therefore, older adults who take reasonable precautions while drinking may still be vulnerable to DUI charges.


Potential consequences


Sadly, regardless of the surrounding circumstances, people who are convicted of DUI in South Carolina may face significant penalties. A first offense may result in a fine of $1,000, license suspension of six months and anywhere from 48 hours to 30 days of imprisonment or public service. People who are arrested with high BAC levels and people who have previously been convicted of DUI may face even steeper sanctions.


Considering these potential consequences, people facing DUI charges should consider protecting their rights by speaking with an attorney. An attorney may be able to offer advice on challenging the charges or reducing the long-term consequences of a conviction.



UA-117968069-1