How Is A DUI Defined In South Carolina?

In South Carolina the statute states that in order to be found guilty of a DUI, the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your faculties to drive are materially and appreciably impaired either by alcohol or any other substance. That is something that a lot of people do not realize. I emphasize to the jury that the government has to show more than that the person just had a couple of drinks. They have to show that his ability to drive was actually materially and appreciably impaired. Most of my clients have been pulled over for something like a taillight or speeding, which are not indicators of drunk driving.

There is also an offense called DUAC which makes it 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. The penalties and consequences are the same as DUI.

Is The Odor Of Alcohol Sufficient Enough To Warrant A DUI Arrest?

Sometimes just the odor of alcohol is enough for police to further detain someone and to ascertain there is enough probable cause to make an arrest for a DUI. It is at this point when law enforcement will start asking how much you have had to drink and where you have been. They will then ask you to step out of the car and do the field sobriety tests.

Do Most DUI Defendants Have High Blood Alcohol Concentration Levels?

I see people who are arrested for DUI who have a wide range of blood alcohol concentration levels, including people who did not take the breathalyzer at all. I often see people who allegedly have high levels of alcohol in his or her blood, such as 0.15% or 0.16% but that do show signs of intoxication. This just makes me question further the reliability of the breathalyzer tests. I rarely have people who are obviously drunk. If they are obviously impaired, those are the cases you try to get the best plea offer possible. However, the majority of individuals were pulled over for something else and the officer saw a chance to issue a DUI charge.

Do You See A Typical DUI Client In South Carolina?

I have had plenty of women and older people as DUI clients but the majority are young men. Part of that may be that young men are probably a little more adventurous with their driving and so they are more likely to get pulled over for something else.

How Public Is The Knowledge Of A DUI Arrest?

A DUI arrest can be very public. If a person is a public figure, the video will be shown on the news. There are websites that post all arrests and there are papers that can be purchased in gas stations that show people who have been arrested. What I usually tell people is search your name on the internet and I will contact that company to get your picture off the internet. Once things are on the internet, it is hard to erase, so unfortunately, it can be very embarrassing.

What Are Some Unintentional Mistakes Detrimental To A DUI Case?

Some of the biggest mistakes people make in a DUI case are that they talk too much. They think they have to answer all of the officer’s questions and tell them how much they have had to drink and where they have been. The officers ask on a scale of one to ten, how drunk a suspect thinks he or she is. You do not need to answer that question. Whatever you say, it is not going to be the right answer.

Another mistake people often make is they consent to the breathalyzer and field sobriety tests when they should not do so. If you do not do those things, there is rarely going to be sufficient evidence against you.

Additionally, people tend to talk about their case and even put their arrest on social media which is not wise. I do not see that often. Most people are getting smarter about that. However, it is stunning how often people will share their drama on media sites.

Another thing that I usually advise to people is, do not enter into any alcohol treatment programs while your case is pending. We do not want that to be used against you, implying that you have an alcohol problem which could mean you were drunk at the time of the arrest. The majority of people I see do not have alcohol problems. I am not saying I do not have people that do, of course, but most are individuals who just went out and had a couple of drinks and it is not an issue for them. So they ask me “Should I go and get treatment?”

I tell them, “No, not yet.”

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