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4 common defenses to DUI charges in South Carolina

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 4:00 PM


4 common defenses to DUI charges in South Carolina


There are several legitimate defenses that may be invoked when someone in South Carolina is charged with DUI.


Last year, The Post and Courier published an article detailing several cases in which a South Carolina driver's DUI charges were dismissed. For example, state law mandates that most sobriety or breath tests be videotaped. In one case, a man was shown to walk too many steps during the heel-to-toe test and left the camera view. As a result, the case was thrown out.


It is imperative that anyone accused of drunk driving understand the state's laws as well as common defenses that may be used, such as the following:

1. Incomplete or inadmissible video


The requirement to videotape all DUI investigations was amended in early 2015 to note that law enforcement officers must make a reasonable attempt to do so. The recording must meet the following standards:


  • It should start when the law enforcement officer turns on the lights of the car.
  • It should include the entirety of any breath test administered.
  • It should record the behavior of the accused for the 20 minutes prior to the test.


Straying from these standards could affect the outcome of a DUI case.

2. Improper sobriety and breath testing


When it comes to field sobriety testing, there are standards by which law enforcement officers are expected to abide. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration outlines three sobriety tests that may be used to determine if a suspect has been drinking. Failing one test alone is not supposed to necessarily indicate drunk driving. Additionally, law enforcement officers should clearly explain before the tests are administered what is expected of the accused.


Breath testing has been shown to be an unreliable measure of someone's blood alcohol content. The National District Attorneys Association points out that several factors, including officer ineptitude and improper calibration of the machine, can lead to an inaccurate reading.

3. Necessity


In some cases, people may have felt they had no other choice than to drive after drinking. According to a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling, the necessity defense may be invoked when there is either an imminent or present emergency that would result in death or serious bodily harm and no other alternative is available to the driver. For example, someone fleeing an abusive spouse may try to use the necessity defense.

4. An improper stop


Another way to defend against DUI charges in South Carolina is to state that the law enforcement officer did not have probable cause to make a traffic stop. In order to pull over a vehicle, law enforcement are required to have reason to believe that the driver is breaking the law. Failing to do so could result in a dismissed case.


Anyone who has questions about this issue should consult with an attorney.


5 reasons to hire an attorney when facing a DUI in South Carolina

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)


5 reasons to hire an attorney when facing a DUI in South Carolina


Hiring a criminal defense attorney is essential for people who are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina.

 

According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, nearly 27,000 people in the state were arrested last year on charges of driving under the influence. Not every charge, however, will lead to a conviction. In fact, it is possible to secure reduced charges, a dismissed case or lessened sentences.


In order to do so, it is imperative to hire a criminal defense attorney. Here are several reasons that people facing a DUI in South Carolina should contact a lawyer:


1. Jail time


The SCDPS notes that even someone's first DUI offense could carry with it 48 hours of imprisonment. The length of incarceration grows with the number of offenses and the severity of the case. For a fourth or subsequent offense, someone could fast as much as five years in prison.


These are the penalties associated with a basic DUI case. If the incident resulted in serious injury or death, the prison time is even longer. By law, a fatal DUI accident could land someone in jail for as long as 25 years. Lawyers know how to negotiate a sentence or illustrate that the charges brought against a defendant are inappropriate. Through hiring a skilled attorney, a defendant could literally save years of freedom.


2. Loss of driving privileges


In addition to imprisonment, someone convicted of a DUI will lose driving privileges. The timeframe for a suspension can last for six months to two years, or, in some cases, privileges can be permanently revoked. Losing a license can have a serious effect on someone's professional and personal life. An attorney will know not only how to prevent this from happening, but also how to help someone get a license reinstated.

 

3. Legal complexities


Some people are tempted to represent themselves in court in an effort to save time or money. However, legal proceedings are fraught with jargon and procedural rules. Someone unfamiliar with the process could make even a simple mistake that would lead to unfavorable results.


4. Creative defense strategies


An attorney who has years of experience representing people who face DUI charges knows what to look for in terms of building a defense. For example, sobriety tests are not always accurate, or the arresting officer may have made an error in terms of due process. An attorney knows the laws and knows how to protect a driver's rights.


The sooner an attorney is involved, the better. A lawyer can ensure that someone is treated fairly from the moment the arrest occurs. Further, he or she can review the details of the case and get to work on building a successful defense strategy. Anyone facing a DUI charge in South Carolina should contact a criminal defense attorney.

 

What rights do South Carolina drivers have at sobriety checkpoints?

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 3:55 PM


What rights do South Carolina drivers have at sobriety checkpoints?


DUI checkpoints are used by law enforcement to identify impaired motorists, but by knowing their rights, drivers may avoid an unnecessary arrest.


In South Carolina and across the U.S., it is illegal for motorists to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of .08 percent or greater. Sobriety checkpoints are law enforcement stops that are conducted at specific locations to identify drivers who are intoxicated or otherwise impaired. South Carolina is among numerous states that permit these types of checks. In order to avoid being unnecessarily arrested at a DUI checkpoint, motorists need to have an understanding their rights.

 

Talking to the authorities


In most cases, law enforcement officers at sobriety checkpoints first approach the stopped automobiles and speak with the drivers. People often talk to the authorities and answer their questions because they feel obligated to do so. However, drivers are not required to respond to questioning at such stops. Rather, they may choose to inform law enforcement of their intention to invoke their constitutional rights. These rights include the ability to seek legal counsel prior to speaking with the authorities and to leave if they are not being arrested.


Performing roadside tests


When law enforcement officers suspect drivers are under the influence of alcohol, they often ask them to perform field sobriety tests. If people have not been drinking, these tasks may serve as proof and help them to be on their way. However, if they are intoxicated or perform poorly for any number of reasons, roadside tests may be used as grounds for an arrest or for the authorities to investigate further.

Compliance with requests to perform field sobriety tests is completely voluntary. Though, drivers should keep in mind that refusing to perform these tasks does not guarantee they will not be arrested. Instead, the authorities may have a more difficult time proving their case at trial.

 

Submitting to chemical testing


If the authorities have enough cause, they may place suspected drunk drivers under arrest at sobriety checkpoints. Often, they will then ask the motorists to submit to a breath, blood or urine test to determine their BAC level. By driving in the state, people are considered to have consented to such testing. While they may still refuse to provide a sample for chemical testing, doing will result in additional penalties.


Refusing to submit to a chemical test may result in an automatic driver's license suspension. The length of the driving restriction depends on the motorist's prior record. People may be prohibited from operating vehicles for 90 days for a first offense and 180 days if they have previously been convicted of an alcohol-related offense.

 

Seeking legal guidance

 

Many South Carolinians overlook the potential effects of a DUI conviction. However, people have been arrested for drunk driving may continue to deal with the consequences long after they have served their time and paid their fines. Therefore, it may benefit drivers who are suspected of DUI to obtain legal representation. An attorney may help ensure their rights have not been violated, and help them develop a defense against the charges they are facing.


Traffic Tickets in South Carolina and New York

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Traffic Tickets in South Carolina and New York

Whether vacationing this summer in Myrtle Beach or visiting the Statue of Liberty, there are a few things that drivers ought to know about getting traffic tickets in South Carolina and New York. Both New York and South Carolina have a point system for traffic offenses. However, the waypoints are assigned is quite different. The following article will explain these differences while hoping to give motorists a better idea of the penalties they can expect to receive if ticketed in NY or SC.


South Carolina's Point System


In South Carolina, traffic offenses are worth two, four, or six points. Generally, points will stay on a SC license for two years. However, the violation will not be erased from driving record. In other words, the points will no longer count toward suspension or revocation of driving privileges after two years, but the driving record will still contain the offenses committed (and auto insurance carriers will still know about them). Drivers who receive 12 or more points on a South Carolina license can have their driving privileges automatically suspended. The duration of the suspension will depend on the number of points accumulated:

  • 12 to 15 points can result in suspension for three months.
  • 16 or 17 points can result in suspension for four months.
  • 18 or 19 points can result in suspension for five months.
  • 20 or more points can result in suspension for six months.


Common SC Traffic Offenses (A-Z)

Points
Disobedience of any official traffic control device 4
Disobedience to officer directing traffic 4
Driving 10 mph too fast for conditions 2
Driving in improper lane 2
Driving on wrong side of road 4
Driving through or within safety zone 4
Failing to dim lights 2
Failing to yield right of way 4
Following too closely 4
Hit-and-run, property damages only 6
Improper dangerous parking 2
Operating a vehicle in unsafe condition 2
Operating with improper brakes 4
Operating with improper lights 2
Passing stopped school bus 6
Passing unlawfully 4
Reckless driving 6
Shifting lanes without safety precaution 2
Speeding 11 to 24 m.p.h. above the posted limit 4
Speeding 25+ m.p.h. above the posted limit 6
Speeding up to 10 m.p.h. above the posted limit 2
Turning unlawfully 4


New York's Point System


Unlike SC’s Point System, NY does not set a fixed rate for points or divide them into only three categories. A traffic ticket in New York can range from zero points to 11 points. New York drivers who receive 11 or more points within 18 months can have their license suspended for six months. Likewise, if a driver is convicted of driving without insurance, he/she can have their license suspended for one year.

Common NY Traffic Offenses (A-Z) Points
Failure to Obey Stop Sign  3
Failure to Stop for School Bus  5
Failure to Yield Right of Way  3
Failure to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle  2
Following Too Closely  4
Inadequate Breaks (if Employer's Vehicle)  2
Inadequate Breaks (if Your Vehicle)  4
Leaving the Scene of an Accident  3
Mobile Phone Violation  3
Non-Moving Violations  0
Passed Red Light  3
Railroad Crossing Violation  3
Reckless Driving (Criminal Traffic Violation)  5
Seatbelt Violation or Child Restraint Violation (if Under 16)  3
Speeding (MPH Not Indicated on Ticket)  3
Speeding 1-10 MPH Over Speed Limit  3
Speeding 11-20 MPH Over Speed Limit  4
Speeding 21-30 MPH Over Speed Limit  6
Speeding 31-40 MPH Over Speed Limit  8
Speeding 41 or More MPH Over Speed Limit  11
Unsafe Lane Change, Improper Passing, Driving in Wrong Direction  3
Using a Portable Electronic Device (Texting, using iPod, etc.)  6


Out-of-State Traffic Tickets


Both NY and SC signed the Driver's License Compact, so they freely share driver information with one another. A South Carolina driver who receives a NY traffic ticket (or vice versa), contrary to popular belief, cannot just ignore it hoping it will not affect them. Out-of-state drivers who refuse to respond to or pay a New York or South Carolina traffic ticket can have their right to drive in that state suspended. Worse, as per the Compact, whenever a participant state suspends driving privileges for a driver licensed in another member state, the licensing state may also choose to suspended the license in kind. So SC drivers who don’t pay (or fight) their New York traffic tickets can have their license suspended.


As a general rule, South Carolina will record tickets received in New York and other states on driving records. Moreover, the SCDMV will assess points on the license as though the ticket were issued in South Carolina.


That’s not all. While New York State cannot assess points against South Carolina licenses, New York’s point value still matters. As such, SC drivers who commit 11 points worth of traffic offenses while in New York can have their right to drive in the Empire State (and at home) suspended.


By contrast, the New York State DMV does not record out-of-state violations committed by New York drivers in other jurisdictions unless they were alcohol- or drug-related or a moving violation committed in Quebec or Ontario.


This means that NY drivers ticketed for speeding in SC will only bear the cost of the SC fine and an insurance hike (i.e. no points). Still, this can be quite costly, and drivers who recently received a traffic ticket should contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney right away to mitigate those costs. If you received a ticket in South Carolina, contact the Lord Law Firm for a free consultation.


Author Bio Adam H. Rosenblum of traffictickets.com is a traffic ticket lawyer licensed to practice in both New York and New Jersey.


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