Can you get a DUI dismissed in SC?
If you’ve been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, you probably don’t want to go to trial. You also don’t want to plead guilty to DUI, and you probably want to avoid pleading to a lesser traffic violation if possible – you want your DUI dismissed.
Is it possible?
There are many ways that your DUI can get dismissed, including:
- When the officer does not comply with SC’s mandatory videotape law,
- When there was no probable cause for the DUI arrest,
- When there was no probable cause for the traffic stop, and
- When key evidence in your case is suppressed.
Depending on the facts of your case, we may be able to get your DUI dismissed completely, get your DUI dismissed in exchange for a plea to a lesser traffic offense, or win your DUI case at trial.
Can I Get a DUI Dismissed if the Officer Did Not Follow the Law?
One common way to get a DUI dismissed is to prove that the arresting officer or the Datamaster operator did not follow SC’s mandatory videotape laws during the roadside investigation or during the administration of the breath test.
How does that work?
City of Rock Hill v. Suchenski
The SC Supreme Court has held, in City of Rock Hill v. Suchenski and later cases, that SC’s videotape law is mandatory. If the arresting officer or the Datamaster operator does not comply with its requirements and if their noncompliance is not justified under SC law, the remedy is dismissal of the DUI charge.
What are those requirements?
SC’s Mandatory Videotape Law
SC’s DUI videotape law requires police to record a suspect’s conduct at both the incident site (the traffic stop) and the breathalyzer site (the Datamaster room) in every DUI, DUAC, or felony DUI case.
Specifically, the video at the incident site must begin no later than the activation of the officer’s blue lights and it must include:
- Any field sobriety tests that are given (including the person’s feet if they are performing the one-legged stand or the walk and turn tests),
- The person’s arrest, and
- The officer reading Miranda rights to the suspect.
At the breath test site, the video must show the entire breath test procedure, including:
- The person taking or refusing the breath test,
- The Datamaster operator’s actions while conducting the test,
- The person being informed that they are being video recorded,
- The person being informed that they have the right to refuse the breathalyzer, and
- The person’s conduct during the 20-minute observation period.
If the officer does not produce these videos, or if the videos do not show the items listed above, the remedy is dismissal of the DUI charge unless the officer submits a sworn affidavit stating that:
- The video equipment was inoperable, what reasonable efforts have been made to maintain the equipment, and that there was no other operable breath testing site in the county, or
- It was physically impossible to comply with the statute’s requirements because the person needed emergency medical treatment or due to other exigent circumstances (some kind of emergency).
Can I Get a DUI Dismissed if There was no Probable Cause?
If there was no probable cause for your arrest or for the traffic stop that led to your arrest, we may also be able to get your DUI dismissed.
Probable Cause for the Arrest
If there was no probable cause for your DUI arrest (for example, if you don’t look intoxicated on the video and blew a .02 on the breathalyzer), we may be able to get your DUI dismissed before trial or we may get what is called a directed verdict after the state presents their evidence.
If there was no probable cause for the arrest, this is also grounds to get your license reinstated at the implied consent hearing, if you refused the breathalyzer or took the breathalyzer and the result was .15 or greater.
Probable Cause for the Traffic Stop
If there was no probable cause for the traffic stop (for example, if we are able to prove there was no traffic violation and the traffic stop was not reasonable), that can also result in dismissal of your charges as the “fruit of the poisonous tree.”
If police violate the Constitution, any evidence that they find as a result of their constitutional violation is excluded as “fruit of the poisonous tree” – the courts will not reward law enforcement for violating a person’s constitutional rights and this is the only effective deterrent that prevents police from ignoring the Bill of Rights.
Can I Get a DUI Dismissed if the Evidence is Suppressed?
Another way to get a DUI dismissed is through suppression of key evidence that the prosecution needs to convict you.
For example, if the prosecution’s strongest evidence in your case is the breathalyzer result, and we get the breathalyzer result suppressed because we prove the machine was not reliable or the officer did not follow SLED policy and procedure when administering the test, your prosecutor may be more likely to make a plea offer of a lesser traffic offense or dismiss your DUI completely.
Similarly, if the prosecution’s best evidence is the roadside video that shows you stumbling as the officer administers field sobriety tests, and we can exclude those field sobriety tests because they were administered improperly and therefore are not reliable, the prosecutor is more likely to dismiss your case or make a plea offer you can live with.
Of course, depending on the facts of your case, there are many other ways to get a DUI dismissed or to win your DUI at trial, such as sobriety witnesses, independent BAC tests, expert testimony about the Datamaster machine or the field sobriety tests, evidence that shows you were not driving the vehicle, or evidence that shows you did not have as much to drink as the officer claims.
DUI Defense Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, SC
If you have been charged with DUI in Myrtle Beach, SC, call your SC DUI lawyer at Coastal Law immediately. We will help you to understand what your potential defenses will be once we have obtained all evidence from the prosecutor and conducted an independent investigation of your case.
Call Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or send us an email message to speak with a SC DUI lawyer today.